Are you feeling tired but wired…have sleepless nights or trouble waking up?
You could be experiencing circadian disruption. In this podcast today we are going to talk about what is circadian disruption and its causes, the signs that indicate your circadian rhythm maybe off and some supplements for a healthy circadian rhythm. I will also explain why midnight snacking may not be a good idea after all !
This blog post summarizes just a few of the golden nuggets from our insightful conversation, for the full details listen to the entire episode here or on your favourite podcast platform by searching for the Self-Care Goddess podcast.
What is Your Circadian Rhythm?
Everybody process has a daily cycle. ⏰ It’s called the circadian rhythm We have a master circadian clock in a specialized area of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) plus self-regulating clocks in the gut, liver, and other internal organs. BUT…do you know what happens when we eat, exercise, sleep, or stare at our phones at times that are out of sync with our internal clock?
It’s not good. Daily rhythms keep your body ticking like a clock. It’s true for morning glories, crickets, birds, dogs, and yes—humans too. Here’s a non-exhaustive list of body processes that follow a 24-hour clock:
✔️ Blood Pressure
✔️ Blood Sugar
✔️ Immune Function
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What can disrupt your Circadian Rhythm?
When our rhythm gets out of whack, it’s called Circadian Disruption. Some symptoms of circadian disruption include:
✖️ Unable to fall asleep
✖️ Difficulty staying asleep
✖️ Waking up groggy
✖️ Crashing mid-day
✖️ Feeling tired but wired
Not only that, but circadian disruption can upset your mood, metabolism, hormones, and digestion.
Let us talk about some causes of Circadian Disruption which essentially means your external daily rhythms are out of sync with your internal body clock. We can correct the problem, but first we need to know the cause, right? Most people know that working nights will mess with your body clock, but here are 5 other not so common causes of circadian disruption:
1️⃣ Sleeping In On Weekends
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you wake to an alarm 5 days a week and sleep until noon on the other 2, your body feels like you’re constantly traveling between time zones. It’s called social jet lag and can do more harm than good.
2️⃣ Being a Night Owl
Lots of people think being a night owl is just a personality trait like anything else. Unfortunately, studies show that night owls are more likely to experience circadian disruption and are at a higher risk for some conditions, like diabetes as well as having weight management issues.
3️⃣ Poor Diet
Both the types of food you choose and the timing of eating can alter the patterns of gut microbiota, which then influence circadian clocks in the gut. Digestion and blood sugar regulation follow a daily rhythm, so your eating patterns should too.
4️⃣ Alcohol Consumption
Chronic alcohol consumption alters the timing of the liver clock and causes a mismatch with your central circadian rhythm. This can happen with even small amounts of alcohol when combined with other variables, like working at night.
5️⃣ Working Indoors
The most powerful external influence on our body clocks is the 24-hour light-dark cycle. If you work in artificial light, your body misses out on the benefits of full-spectrum natural light. Solutions could include taking outdoor breaks or investing in a light-therapy lamp.
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What is a Healthy Circadian Rhythm?
Light and dark exposure are not the ONLY ways to influence your circadian rhythm!
There are 2 key hormones that regulate your daily rhythms, and they not only respond to the light-dark cycle but also to the foods we eat and supplements we take.
They are melatonin & cortisol.
So what is the natural and healthy cycle of these hormones:
☀️In the morning, cortisol rises to make us alert and energized (and melatonin is at its lowest level)
🌙 At night, melatonin rises to make us relaxed and sleepy (and cortisol falls to its lowest level)
Some people who experience circadian disruption also lose this natural rhythm of hormone fluctuations. Maybe their cortisol stays low all day, maybe it rises at night, or maybe their melatonin doesn’t rise high enough. There can be lots of scenarios that’s why it is advised to get tested before beginning to supplement. But the good news is that we can use supplements to support these natural rhythms.
💊 Melatonin can be taken at night to support sleep.
💊 Phosphatidylserine can be taken at night to support a healthy cortisol pattern.
💊 Adaptogenic herbs (like ashwaganda, ginseng) can be taken during the day to support the daily cortisol rhythm.
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Top 3 Most Common Questions About Melatonin
When we talk about sleep we are obviously thinking about Melatonin Supplements and how they can help. Are you confused by all the different options for melatonin supplements? Let’s me explain. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the brain in response to darkness—following a cyclical 24-hour rhythm. Melatonin supplements can be taken to support sleep.
1️⃣ Should I take regular or timed-release melatonin?
If you struggle to FALL asleep, you’ll want to take regular melatonin for the fastest action. If you struggle to STAY asleep, timed-release is best.
2️⃣ Should I take capsules, tablets, or a liquid?
If you want the fastest action to support sleep onset, it’s best to choose a liquid or a sublingual tablet. That way the melatonin can absorb directly into the capillaries under the tongue for the quickest effect.
3️⃣ How much should I take?
The optimal amount depends on your individual response as well as the reason you are taking melatonin (lower amounts support sleep whereas higher amounts support immune function). It’s best to talk with a healthcare professional!
Melatonin is just one tool in our toolkit to support sleep. If you struggle with sleep and want a natural approach to sleeping better, please connect with a professional such as me!
If you struggle with energy or sleep and want to support your circadian rhythm, please work with a qualified practitioner. You can schedule a FREE call.
Why Must We Avoid Mid-Night Snacking?
Let me now talk about this very common habit – If you’re amongst the many who fancy midnight binge eating then this new research alert is for you. Previous research has shown that eating late at night increases obesity risk and body fat, while making it more difficult to lose weight. Now in a new study, investigators at Brigham and Women’s Hospital set out to find out WHY.
16 individuals with obesity or overweight completed 2 protocols: one with a strict early eating schedule, and the second eating the exact same meals but 4 hours later in the day.
Here’s what happened:
⬇️ Leptin levels dropped in the late eating condition. That’s the hormone that makes people feel full, so those who ate late felt hungrier.
⬇️ Calories were burned at a slower rate during the late eating group compared with early eating group.
⬆️ Expression of genes in fat tissue shifted toward promoting fat storage during the late eating.
Another interesting research I’d like to share in today’s podcast was published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. It proves that eating a handful of almonds per day increases the production of butyrate in the gut—the main fuel source for the cells lining the colon. The study involved 87 healthy adults who were told to snack on whole almonds, ground almonds, or muffins for 4 weeks. Compared with those who snacked on muffins, butyrate levels were significantly higher in those who snacked on almonds.
When those cells in the colon are happy? That means…
✔️ healthy gut microbes can grow
✔️ the gut wall stays strong (not leaky)
✔️ nutrients are readily absorbed
What Are the Optimal Hours To Sleep?
Ok let me ask you this now? 💤Are you sleeping 5 hours or less per night? I hope not. New research on the health of 70,000 men and women in their 50s, 60s, and 70s, showed a link between 5 hours or less per night and disease risk. Compared with those who slept 7 hours per night, those who slept only 5:
⬆️ were 20% more likely to be diagnosed with a chronic disease at age 50
⬆️ were 40% more likely to be diagnosed with 2 or more chronic diseases over 25 years
⬆️ had a 25% increased risk of death over 25 years
The study was published in PLOS Medicine. SO this is enough proof and a good reminder of how important it is to get a good night’s sleep! If you need help with sleep, please connect with me ASAP so I can help!
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Take Home Message
Even if you don’t have complete control over the daily schedule (sometimes maybe you’ll be visiting family or hosting a dinner party), Here’s a cheat sheet for how to feel happier and healthier at the end of the day:
📋 Do some prep work – Plan busy days
👟 Start with exercise
💦 Drink plenty of water
🍂 Get outside for some fresh air
🧩 Play games or puzzles
☯️ Reflect at the end of the day (treat yourself with journaling or a bath)
The effects of Circadian disruption can be overwhelming but when we shift our perspective to be grateful for the moment we have, we come out happier on the other side. What are your thoughts? Do any of the ideas here resonate with you?
This wraps up my podcast on circadian disruption! I hope you’ve learned a thing or two. More importantly, I hope you’ve been inspired to take an action. If better health is one of your goals and you still have a bit of a way to go, here are 3 ways I can support you:
- A FREE introductory initial consult.
- Download the freebie gifts offered on my website
- Follow my social media and YouTube channel for daily practical wellness tips and demonstrations.
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Listen to the full podcast episode #82 on the Self-Care Goddess Podcast.
I look forward to connecting with you and learning more about your story and your health and wellness goals. Schedule a FREE introduction call here.
Nina Vujović et al. Late isocaloric eating increases hunger, decreases energy expenditure, and modifies metabolic pathways in adults with overweight and obesity. Cell Metabolism, 2022. [link]
Alice C Creedon, Eirini Dimidi, Estella S Hung, et al. The Impact of Almonds and Almond Processing On Gastrointestinal Physiology, Luminal Microbiology and Gastrointestinal Symptoms: a Randomized Controlled Trial and Mastication Study. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2022. [link]
Séverine Sabia, Aline Dugravot, Damien Léger, et al. Association of sleep duration at age 50, 60, and 70 years with risk of multimorbidity in the UK: 25-year follow-up of the Whitehall II cohort study. PLOS Medicine, 2022; 19 (10): e1004109. [link]
Faiza Kalam, Rand T. Akasheh, Sofia Cienfuegos, et al. Effect of time‐restricted eating on sex hormone levels in premenopausal and postmenopausal females. Obesity, 2022. [link]