Sleep: Let’s Get Back to Basics
Years ago, when I was touring with Deepak Chopra giving Ayurvedic consultations and lectures in different cities, I had a patient who complained of waking up with a headache every morning. I gave him an herbal protocol and three months later, I returned to his town. I saw him for a follow-up and he was, unfortunately, no better. I treated him again and, once again, his condition remained the same.
These consultations on the road were designed to mirror an Ayurvedic consultation in India, a quick pulse reading followed by some recommendations. Realizing I must have missed something, I went back to the basics. I asked him when he goes to sleep and when he wakes up. He said he goes to sleep at 2am and wakes up at 11am.
Oh boy, I thought, I really screwed up. This guy is simply sleeping at the wrong time! I told him to take out a boring book—not one of mine, of course—at about 9pm and as soon as his eyes get tired, turn off the lights and try to go to sleep.
Then, in the morning, the very first time your eyes open, get out of bed. Do not roll over and go back to sleep, just get up—even if it is 5am. I asked him to call me in a week and give me a report.
I received a call from him in just a couple of days. He told me that he followed my instructions, and he woke up for the first time in 10 years without a headache. While he was grateful, he proceeded to accuse me of stringing him along. He asked why I hadn’t given him this advice on that very first consult. Since then, I try to always look for the most simple and obvious solution first.
Science Backing Ayurveda
Recently, an Australian study evaluated the sleep habits of 2,200 kids randomly chosen between ages nine and 16 years. They divided the kids into four sleep pattern groups:1
The results confirmed that when you get sleep may be just as important as how much sleep you get.
Compared to the early-bed/early-rise group, the late-bed/late-rise adolescents:
- Had a higher Body Mass Index (BMI)
- Were 1.47 times more likely to be overweight
- Were 2.16 times more likely to be obese
- Were 1.77 times more likely to have less moderate-to-vigorous physical activity
- Were 2.92 times more likely to have higher screen time
Ask Yourself . . . or Try Tonight!
Imagine going to bed tonight at midnight and waking up at 10am. How would you feel? Groggy, stiff, achy, and dull?
Now, imagine going to bed at 8pm and waking up at 6am. How would you feel in comparison? More energetic, clear, limber, and refreshed?
Both of these night’s sleep are 10 hours, but the difference in how you feel is dramatically different.
It is easy to lose touch with our circadian clocks. In the modern world, so many of us are out of sync with natural rhythms. Luckily, it is easy to reset your clocks and reap the benefits of better, deeper, and more restorative sleep.
You Can Reset Your Circadian Clock
Recently research at Colorado University at Boulder studies the effect of living off the grid for a week or a weekend measuring the profound balancing effect it had on our circadian rhythms. The study took a group of Boulder residents who were self-proclaimed as healthy but when their circadian rhythms were evaluated they were way out of whack.
After just one week of being on a wildness, off the grid camping trip their circadian clock was reset 100%. The group became early to bed and early risers. They naturally went to bed 2 hours earlier and woke up 2 hours earlier.
They performed a second study and took a group on just a weekend camping trip and they had similarly powerful results. This group went to bed 1.5 hours earlier and got up 1.5 hours earlier in just a weekend.
In just one weekend camping trip, the researchers observed that the campers were able to achieve around 69% of the circadian shift-benefits that were achieved by the entire week-long camping experience that reset their clocks 100%.2,3
Your At-Home Weekend Sleep Cycle Reset
Try some of these simple home strategies to help reset your circadian clock:
- Take a weekend and turn off the Wi-Fi, lock away your cell phone, turn off all the lights and use candles or/and a fireplace for evening light. Get outside for a hike or walk as much as possible. Go to bed in the early evening at the first sign of sleepiness and get up in the morning when your eyes first open. Get outside and take a morning walk as you watch the sunrise. Enjoy!
- During the week, turn off the house Wi-Fi after supper. Dim the house lights and avoid phones, televisions or computers. Go to bed reading a book by candlelight.
- On your next camping trip, don’t miss the great opportunity to reset your clock. Don’t turn on your phone and avoid flashlights. Make torches and a campfire. Enjoy!
- Consider getting outside and performing a yoga sequence, such as the Sun Salutation at sunrise and sunset.
What times do you sleep? How does it make you feel?
We RecommendReset Your Circadian Clock This Weekend