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  • Dr. Christa O'Leary

Circadian Rhythm: Your Body's Natural Sleep Timer

It's a well-known fact that sleep is essential for maintaining good health and wellbeing. But did you know that there are two different types of sleep? The first type, rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, is where we dream and have the most vivid thoughts. The second type, non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep, provides restorative benefits to your muscles and brain cells. What many people don't realize is that humans aren't the only creatures who need to get enough shut-eye: in fact, all living things require it! Here are some interesting facts about circadian rhythm - your body's natural clock - and how to optimize it.

What is Your Circadian Rhythm?

The human body has a natural sleep/wake rhythm called the circadian or biological clock. This is controlled by certain genes in your brain and determines when you feel sleepy as well as how much time it takes for that feeling to come on. Circadian rhythms are important in maintaining our health, but they can be disrupted if we don't stick to a regular sleep schedule.

What is the Difference Between NREM and REM Sleep?

NREM sleep comes in two forms: slow-wave (or deep) sleep, where your breathing slows down and heart rate decreases, and paradoxical or rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, which engages in vivid dreaming. This type of sleep is the most important for memory-making and learning.

What Does Your Circadian Rhythm Depend On?

Circadian rhythms are influenced by many factors, like light exposure, exercise patterns, diet habits, age and hormone fluctuations - to name a few. One of its biggest influencers though is your natural sleep schedule: when you go to bed and when you wake up each day.

How Do I Optimize My Circadian Rhythm?

Optimizing your circadian rhythms is as simple and making a few small changes to how often you sleep, what time of the day you exercise, or even just going outside for a walk on a nice sunny morning! It's important to get plenty of natural light exposure, which helps set your body clock. You should also maintain a regular sleep schedule and avoid eating or drinking too late in the evening since these habits can lead to you feeling tired during the day.

Exercise is also important for your body clock, as it promotes more REM sleep and reduces the time to reach peak alertness in a morning. Afternoon exercise could be energizing or energizing depending on when you do it! It's best if you keep your workouts within one hour of bedtime since this will help with getting quality rest.

There are also some natural supplements that can help optimize your circadian rhythms. Melatonin is a common sleep aid and may improve sleep quality (Have you seen the Designs For Health Chocolate FX yet? Click here to check them out). There's also evidence that folic acid, Omega-three fatty acids, magnesium citrate and vitamin D could have beneficial effects on brain function.


REM and NREM sleep are both important for good health, but it's also necessary to maintain a regular sleep schedule. This will help optimize your circadian rhythm so you can get quality shut-eye throughout the night! If you're struggling to sleep at night, it may be a symptom of a larger root cause. See a doctor if it persists for more than two weeks. Have questions? Give us a call at (830) 992-3042.

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