Resetting Your Circadian Rhythm: Essential Practices
This is a 20 step process to fully reset your circadian rhythm. Regardless of which type of
disrupted sleep you have, these practices are non negotiable to implement. I recommend
starting at the beginning and working up- contrary to popular sleep hygiene tips, it is actually
focusing on the beginning of the day that will give you the most effective results. Of course,
bed time routines are very important as well, and your goal should be to eventually be
implementing all of these practices.
- Reprioritize your values. Sleep is so essential to healing your brain and nervous system.
Getting a minimum of 7 hours of sleep a night needs to be a non negotiable priority.
- Start increasing the consistently of your schedule and routines. If your schedule is
irregular, this needs to be shifted. Your wake up times, activities, wind down time, and bed
time need to be the same every day of the week- no weekend schedule and work day
- You MUST work on getting up earlier in the morning, even if you did not get to bed until
late the night before. This is the best way to start fixing your sleeping schedule. You will
have a period of time when you feel sleep deprived, but there is no way around this.
- Once you wake up in the morning, you must get up and out of bed immediately. Do not
check your phone. Do not ruminate about your day.
- The first activity of your day is to be exposed to sunlight (even if the sun is covered by
clouds, the positive effect remains). Aim for a 20-30 minutes of direct sunlight
- Studies show that a minimum of 3-8 hours of natural light exposure a day is optimal for
triggering our circadian rhythm optimally.
- If you struggle with mid day fatigue, try lying down or sitting down without letting
yourself fall asleep.
- Do not exercise or drink caffeine past 2pm.
- Around 7pm, or as it starts to get dark, make sure to dim all the lights in the house. Do not
use any bright/overhead lights from this time until bed.
- Install blue light blockers on all electronic devices, including phones, laptops, ipads, etc.
- Try to eat your last meal by 8pm at the latest and do not snack afterwards.
- Stop using electronics within an hour of your goal bedtime.
- Do not do stimulating activities within at least an hour of your goal bedtime- again, if you
have very difficult time falling asleep or tend to have nightmares, you may want to extend
this to two hours.
- 10pm should be the latest you are in bed.
- Do mindset retraining work before bed.
- Keep your room quiet, dark and cool, if at all possible.
- If you mouth breathe at night, you can retrain yourself to breathe through your nose while
you sleep by taping your mouth shut.
- It is important than you wean off any “sleep aids” you are currently on that can have a
detrimental effect on the nervous system when used long term.
- You can use chamomile tea, American skullcap, valerian root, or as a last resort, melatonin.
- Let go of pressure and expectations around sleep. Many people get stuck in a feedback
loop of anxiety about having insomnia, which further worsens their insomnia! Dedicate
yourself to the practices detailed in this chapter and leave the rest up to your body.
Remember, resetting your circadian rhythm takes time. It can take weeks, and even months
in some cases, of consistent implementation of the above practices to retrain your hormonal
system back into an optimal state. Be patient with yourself, and stay consistent.