The importance of your circadian rhythm is obvious. Any disruption can lead to a chain reaction of issues down the line. If you read the first two segments of this series, you would be clear on the critical role our circadian rhythm and SCN play in overall health.
We know that in a perfect world, we would wind our bodies down as the sun sets, allow our eyes to close as night falls, and open them again as day breaks.
Unfortunately, the world is far from perfect and reality dictates that our schedules don't line up with the most natural light and dark cycles. So what do we do?
There are four primary “biohacks”, or ways to naturally manipulate our clocks back into an appropriate place. The ultimate goal is to achieve a sleep cycle that promotes overall health, wellbeing, and alignment with the natural circadian rhythm.
Biohack One: Intermittent Fasting
There is a strong chance you have investigated intermittent fasting or heard about it from one of your friends at the gym. The principle is based on the circadian rhythm!
Time-restricted eating, a popular form of intermittent fasting, can lead to a vast improvement in your overall health, benefit you from a fitness performance standpoint, and improve your sleep (a key piece of resetting the circadian rhythm).
Eating is a major regulator of your circadian rhythm. Our bodies are designed to take nutrition at a specific time. Studies have shown that the gut is best prepared for digestion between 1:00 PM and 8:00 PM.
Unfortunately, we have interrupted our natural eating patterns by forcing the “three meals a day” belief system. This is reinforced by some nutritionists who suggest that eating many small snacks throughout the day is better than a well-rounded meal at the right time of day.
A study was performed on mice that illustrates how important intermittent fasting can be. Some of the mice were restricted to meals in the appropriate window for their natural circadian rhythm. Others were allowed to eat as they saw fit. Guess which mice became obese? The unrestricted grazers.
Intermittent fasting is a more natural way of eating that syncs our gut with our food intake. This, along with the improved sleep, offers a major biohack for resetting the circadian rhythm.
Biohack Two: Control the Light/Dark Cycle
We have talked before about how an ideal scenario would allow us to sleep when it gets dark and wake when the sun rises. This is not realistic and has become an unreasonable expectation given the way humans live, work, play, and eat.
There are some ways we can control the light and dark cycles to avoid unnecessarily doing more damage to our circadian rhythms. The most important is removing blue light inputs from our sleep time and space. Blue light is naturally derived from Earth’s sun. Thus, we would typically expect to receive inputs from blue light during the daytime, awake hours.
Blue light is emitted from many unnatural sources around the home like TV, cell phones, and other devices. Many of those devices make their way into the bedroom and disrupt our light and dark cycles which trickles down to sleep loss, interrupts digestion processes, and ultimately results in health issues.
Many use the hour laying in bed before falling asleep to catch up on Netflix or unwind by reading on their tablet. This is causing far more damage than simply “losing a little sleep”.
The disruption to the light and dark cycles limits the production of melatonin. Yes, melatonin is a hormone that helps us sleep. Sleep is important, yes, but melatonin is responsible for more than just drowsiness. It is also an anti-inflammatory that helps our bodies heal.
The biohack here is simple, put away your screens at night. That can be a challenge for some, which is why blue light has become such a disruption to our circadian rhythms. Aim to increase bright light and get healthy sun exposure during the day, while removing blue light from your world as night falls.
Biohack Three: Hormones
There are times when circadian rhythm disruptions from sleep loss, blue light intrusion, and other issues can cause significant problems in our regulatory systems. This is where you start to see people suffering from illness and weight gain.
Gaining control of our body’s hormones is vital to recovering from the negative impacts of circadian rhythm disruption. There are many interventions that can help to realign and reset the body’s natural rhythm, such as those offered by experts like those at the Boulder Longevity Institute.
As an example, the loss of deep sleep can result in Growth Hormone (GH) deficiencies. This leads to stagnant or nonexistent muscle growth, loss of brain function, and an inability to burn fat. Peptides, such as CJC and Ipamorelin, can be introduced to increase GH output.
Cortisol, another hormone, stimulates our body and can be increased by stressors in our lives. An increase in cortisol wrecks sleep, which wrecks our circadian rhythm. Ashwagandha and Relora have the ability to lower high cortisol levels to a place where better sleep is possible.
There are other hacks, such as Banaba Leaf, which can help control spikes of glucose and insulin that lead to issues with testosterone levels. Balancing and maintaining the appropriate level of testosterone can help with sleep. It also prevents unnecessary fat storage.
There are many ways to regulate the hormones in our body to ensure appropriate sleep and circadian rhythm regulation.
Biohack Four: Peptides
The major peptides that come up in discussions around biohacking the circadian rhythm are called Deep Sleep Inducing Peptides (DSIP). These peptides do not make you feel sleepy when introduced but restore the stage four deep sleep that is imperative to helping regulate and restore the CLOCK gene.
DSIP is naturally introduced when a baby ingests breast milk. If you have ever seen a baby after drinking breastmilk, you have a firm understanding of how DSIP impacts sleep. The baby typically cannot resist falling asleep immediately after finishing eating.
Introducing DSIP is a biohack that can lower stress, potentially help with those anticipating alcohol or opioid withdrawal, and can positively impact the circadian rhythm in those with CLOCK gene disruption.
DSIP is a powerful tool that can help release GH in a physiological way, helping biohack the circadian rhythm.
A Note on Optimizing Exercise
Dr. Elizabeth Yurth, of the Boulder Longevity Institute, says she frequently gets asked about optimizing exercise via the circadian rhythm.
The question is typically something like, “When is the best time to exercise?”
For most of us, the answer is “consistently.” Finding a time in each day that is relatively the same allows our bodies to adapt that exercise into our body’s internal routine, with the added bonus of helping us maintain the habit of exercise.
From a strictly circadian rhythm perspective, Dr. Yurth says the early evening (around 5:00 PM) is the ideal time for peak physical performance.
Get Your Rhythm Back
Sluggish? Never sleep enough? Always feel like a nap would be life-changing? Seemingly unable to lose weight or gain muscle?
These are all reasons you might consider getting help with your circadian rhythm. Identifying and correcting whatever is “keeping you up at night” is vital to gaining control of your health.
If you're serious about giving your rhythm the reset, check out our custom created Circadian Reset Package composed of key ingredients to keep your internal clock ticking.