Satchin Panda, Ph.D., professor at the Salk Institute in San Diego, is a leading expert in the field of circadian rhythm research.
He introduced the concept of time-restricted eating. Specifically, his research shows that people who eat within an 8 to 12 hour period can boost their circadian rhythm — and possibly reduce chronic diseases.
One study, administered with healthy adults, revealed that overnight sleep deprivation led to 30% more anxiety, on par with people contending with anxiety disorders. (People with anxiety disorders often have trouble with sleep.) Functional MRI scans showed two additional effects of sleep deprivation. The region of the brain involved in emotions was more active, while the prefrontal cortex — the part that slows down your anxiety — was less active.
How can we sleep through the night? Here are 13 suggestions shared in this podcast:
- Eat within an 8-hour window to improve your circadian rhythm. (Example: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.)
- Don’t eat for 2-3 hours before bed.
- If you are waking up between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m., and you’re wide awake, it could be that your blood sugar crashed, and you don’t have enough blood sugar to run the glymphatic system. Your body raises your blood sugar by secreting cortisol and adrenaline, the very combination that will wake you up in the middle of the night. One “hack” is to consume 1 tsp. of brain octane oil or 1-2 tsp. of raw honey — or both — right before bed. (You still will get credit for suggestion #2 on this blog.) The honey should not be in tea because the tea cooks it. Compared to cooked honey, 1 or 2 tsp. of raw honey raises liver glycogen 22% higher.
- Sit near large windows so that you get the full spectrum of light. (Interesting fact: Not getting enough of the entire spectrum of light can lead to myopia.)
- Stay away from blue light-emitting devices for 2-3 hours before bed.
- Get f.lux on your computer.
- Use the “Night Shift” feature on your phone.
- Wear blue light-blocking glasses.
- Replace your LED light bulbs with 40 Watt light bulbs.
- At night, use table lamps to illuminate your work area.
- Take a shower or a bath before bed. Your core body temperature will drop because blood circulation will flow toward your skin and away from your core. Your temperature must drop for you to fall asleep.
- Cover your bedroom windows with blackout curtains.
- Get the My Circadian Clock App, which helps you synchronize your circadian biology.