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Circadian Rhythm / Body Clock

Spouse Have a Different Sleep Routine? Here’s How to Deal

The majority of Americans—60 percent—sleep in a bed with someone else. While sharing a bed is a natural part of being in a relationship, there is a downside: Your partner’s habits can wreak havoc on the quality of your sleep. And it isn’t just loud snoring or tossing and turning that can cause problems—you and your partner might also have completely different circadian rhythms. In fact, women and men often have different sleep cycles. Women tend to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier than men—and the difference can be up to two hours. Unfortunately, this can cause issues not just in the quality of sleep that you get (it can…

6 Caffeine-free Ways to Feel Refreshed Each Morning

In an ideal world, you’d get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep a night that you need and wake up each morning feeling ready to conquer the day. Unfortunately, the average American logs just six and a half hours nightly, and that’s before accounting for bouts of insomnia or other sleep disturbances. The bottom line: Waking up feeling energetic may sound like an elusive goal. But it isn’t. Here are six ways to fake it until you make it.Skip the nightcap.Sipping on a glass of wine might feel like a perfect way to wind down in the evening, but alcohol can actually hamper the quality of your sleep. While it…

What is the Sleep/Wake Cycle?

There’s a reason that your eyelids start to feel heavy in the evening, and pop open in the morning—sometimes even before you’ve gotten enough sleep. Blame it on your sleep/wake cycle (also known as your circadian rhythm). The sleep/wake cycle is a daily pattern that determines when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake. For most humans, the ideal cycle includes seven to nine hours of sleep (typically at night) followed by 15 to 17 hours of wakefulness. The body has a series of processes that set the stage for this cycle. For example, different chemicals and hormones rise and fall over the course of roughly 24 hours, causing you to…

Is It OK to Sleep In on Weekends?

Sleeping in for an extra two or three hours (or more) on a Saturday or Sunday morning may seem like a good way to try to recoup the shuteye that you missed during a busy week. But it won’t help you make up for chronic sleep debt. While it may help you feel slightly less drowsy and stressed out that day, it won’t eliminate the negative, cumulative effects that sleep loss has on your health. Plus, the sleep loss that you’ve already incurred can still adversely affect your mental and physical performance, even if you feel better after sleeping in. What’s more, sleeping in can backfire in a variety of ways. For starters, it can…

How Losing Sleep Affects Your Body and Mind

If you’ve been skimping on sleep to get more done during your waking hours, you may be fooling yourself if you think you’re getting away with it. The truth is, insufficient shuteye can compromise the way that you feel and function around the clock, often in sneaky ways. After all, good-quality sleep provides your mind and body with the opportunity for renewal and rejuvenation, which can help enhance your everyday performance. Here’s a head-to-toe look at the reality of what happens when you cheat on sleep. Your mind won’t function optimally. Sleep is critical for the formation and consolidation of memories—and for your ability to retrieve them while you’re awake. Plus, when you’re tired,…

How to survive on fragmented sleep

Sleep deprivation is nothing to yawn at. Not only does it leave you tired (and grumpy) the next day, but it can also impede your brain’s ability to form memories, increase your risk of depression, and even trigger overeating. But when you’re a new parent, disrupted sleep can be a fact of life. Try these 6 tips for helping both yourself and your bundle of joy to get the shuteye that you need.Share nighttime shifts. A full night of interrupted sleep may leave you in a worse mood the next day than sleeping continuously—but still not getting enough. That’s because when you’re woken up repeatedly, your body can’t get through the sleep stages to…

4 Tips to Maximize Your Circadian Sleep-Wake Rhythm

Our bodies function on many different time cycles (seasonal, monthly, weekly, daily). The daily cycle is referred to as a circadian rhythm (cira “about” diem “day). There are many types of circadian rhythms, including daily fluctuations in body temperature, blood pressure, alertness, and melatonin. Our sleep-wake cycle is an essential circadian rhythm that serves as the foundation for our daily well-being. The sleep-wake cycle is approximately 24 hours. However, for most people, their natural cycle is shorter or longer than 24 hours. Here are 4 tips to help maintain a regular and robust circadian sleep-wake rhythm.Help your body synchronize to a regular 24-hour cycle by maintaining regular bed and wake times. Minimizing fluctuations of…

Don't Let Sunday Nights Get You Down—or Keep You Up

If there were one universal soundtrack for Sunday nights, it would sound like tossing and turning. In the U.S. and beyond, Sundays tend to be the toughest nights for people to fall asleep. Why? Often it’s as simple as staying up later—and sleeping in later—on the weekends, which is sometimes called “social jetlag.” That’s right: Staying up past midnight for a couple of nights when your usual bedtime is 10:00pm can have the same effect as flying from New York to L.A. and back again. Add in stress about the upcoming workweek, and you’ve got a perfect recipe for sleeplessness. Follow these four easy pieces of advice to conquer the Sunday night blues.Stick…

Keep Your Child on a Sleep Schedule During the Holidays

As cute as seasonal jammies are, the holidays can do a number on kids’ sleep routines. With school on a hiatus, migrating meal schedules, and family and friends pouring on exciting new toys and treats, it can be tempting to give up on getting your child to sleep until the New Year’s confetti settles. But unless you want the Grinch at your holiday table—not to mention major sleep wars when school starts again—it’s best not to throw all healthy habits to the wind. Learn how to help your little one get more zzz’s, while still letting him or her enjoy all the hoopla. Be Realistic With Your Plans. Kids can be adaptable—to a point. But…

The Natural Environment and Our Sleep

“One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter.”  – Henry David Thoreau With summer sadly coming to a close, we see the days getting shorter and the temperature starting to cool. For some climates, this translates into less time spent outdoors. What do these environmental changes have to do with our sleep? And how can we best adapt? The importance of the natural environment for our sleep was recently highlighted in an article in Preventative Medicine. The authors examined to what extent characteristics of the natural environment, like access to natural amenities and greenspace, were linked to getting enough sleep. Access to greenspace, oceanfront or other bodies of water,…