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4 Tips to Maximize Your Circadian Sleep-Wake Rhythm

Having a good night’s sleep is not always easy especially after having a busy day. The constant need to feel connected to the world 24/7 gives people increasing levels of stress and “busyness” which makes getting a good night’s sleep difficult.

Thankfully, nature has many cues for us to follow to help us settle down from our busy, stressful lives to a peaceful sleep. At night there is an increase of darkness, decreased activity, and cooler temperatures that all contribute to our bodies feeling sleepy. By increasing these factors in our night routines we can get that good night’s sleep we need.

  1. Darkness releases melatonin, the natural chemical that helps put us to sleep. Dimming lights before bed away and separating yourself from the constant alerts from handheld electronics can help to increase darkness in the bedroom.
  2. Calming your mind and body before bed can help prepare you for a good night’s sleep. Things like finishing all mental and physical activity in advance lets our bodies know it is time to unwind and prepare for bed.
  3. Naturally it gets cooler at night, which helps with putting our bodies to sleep. If possible, setting your thermostat to a cooler temperature between 60 to 68 degrees Fahrenheit can help towards getting a better night’s sleep.

Although we often ignore our natural environment, mimicking nature’s cues in our nightly routines can help with the transition from wake to sleep.

Natalie Dautovich

Natalie Dautovich, Ph.D., is the National Sleep Foundation's Environmental Scholar. She is also appointed at Virginia Commonwealth University as an Assistant Professor of Counseling Psychology in the Department of Psychology. She received her doctorate in Counseling Psychology from the University of Florida and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of South Florida. Dr. Dautovich’s research focuses on behavioral sleep medicine and geropsychology. Specifically, she studies sleep and behavioral rhythms such as daily routines across the adult lifespan. She has published articles, book chapters, and a handbook on sleep and health and presented her research at national conferences.

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