What is a Circadian Rhythm?

March 25, 2016 2 min read

The term “circadian rhythm” may sound pretty scientific, but it’s actually something that affects life every single day. Learn more about what this term means and how you can use it to your advantage to enjoy better sleep each night.

What is a Circadian Rhythm? A circadian rhythm is the body’s natural cycle of physical, mental and behavioral changes. It typically follows a pattern of roughly 24 hours in response to light and dark in the environment. It’s not just people who have circadian rhythms; other organisms, like animals, plants and even some microbes, also have them.

How Do Circadian Rhythms Affect Sleep? Your circadian rhythm doesn’t force you to fall asleep, but it does dictate when you feel the sleepiest and the most awake. In addition, most people’s circadian rhythms are set up to dip at the point of deep sleep, helping you to get especially rested around 2:00-4:00am. When you aren’t getting enough sleep, your circadian rhythm can be affected as well, causing you to feel sleepier throughout the day.

How Can I Use My Circadian Rhythm for Better Sleep? Sticking to a regular schedule for going to bed and waking up can help keep your circadian rhythm on track. When used properly, this type of schedule can also make it easier to fall asleep and wake up. Another point to consider is the environmental factors that influence circadian rhythm. For example, you can expose yourself to daylight early in the day to feel more alert. At night, you can go to a darker environment to fall asleep faster. Keep in mind that not everyone’s circadian rhythms are exactly the same. For instance, some people are naturally more alert early in the day while others tend to be most awake during the later part of the day. In either case, however, the tips listed above can help lead to more restful sleep each night, which will help you to feel your best each day.