Day 4: Circadian Rhythm

“I’m having trouble sleeping.”

“Are you having trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or both?”

“Both. It takes me a long time to fall asleep and when I do, I’m up at about 2 or 3 a.m. So I probably only sleep 3 or 4 hours every night.”

This is a typical conversation that I have with my patients who suffer from sleep issues.

A circadian rhythm is basically a natural cycle of daytime, nighttime, sleep, and wakefulness. It’s like a built-in internal clock inside of all of us.

And when that rhythm is altered, whether it be due to stress, change in work schedule, excess caffeine, etc, we find ourselves in dire need of a restful night’s sleep.

If you have you trouble with sleep, I suggest cutting off all technology at least 2 hours before bedtime. Yep, no phones, television, iPads, laptops, etc.

Then, I suggest adding exercise early in the morning, which provides energy throughout the day but then provides a restful night’s sleep.

Additionally, reduce stress, try and maintain a regular work schedule, and eliminate all caffeine at least 4 hours before bedtime.

Whew. That was a lot. But, there’s lots of research to show that those suggestions work.

If a patient fails on all of the above, then we add medication. Melatonin is a natural supplement that can be found over the counter and it is dosed from 1mg to 10mg at bedtime.

If that doesn’t work, then we move to prescription medication, which includes Temazepam or Ambien.

Then viola! Once we find the secret weapon for the patient, he/she returns feeling well rested and much better!

On day 4 of creation (please see my previous blogs on days 1-3), God created the sun, the moon, and the stars, signifying our days.

“Let there be lights in the vault of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs to mark sacred times, and days and years, and let them be lights in the vault of the sky to give light on the earth.” Genesis 1:14-15 NIV.

He created time.

He created a Circadian Rhythm for us. So that we may have periods of wakefulness and periods of rest. So that when we wake in the morning, we have a fresh start.

My prayer for my patients with an interrupted Circadian Rhythm is that all the things of this world are removed. I pray that their focus goes back to the One who created time itself. I pray for restored physical health, mental health, and spiritual health.

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