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Why We Need to Begin and End Our Days with the Sun

June 15, 2022

Why We Need to Begin and End Our Days with the Sun

If you struggle with sleep issues at night, or doze off during the daytime, you might be suffering from a sleep disorder. Sleep disorders occur because of a wide range of factors. It can be uncomfortable bedding, or an underlying health issue that you might want to investigate.

If you use a mattress from a  premium brand, like Eco Terra, and your physician has ruled out any underlying medical condition, or other sleep disorder, your circadian rhythm can be unbalanced.

Your circadian rhythm is responsible for your sleep cycles and wakefulness during the daytime. It’s responsible for balancing your body, and keeping it functional.

What are Circadian Rhythms?

Circadian rhythm is your body's internal clock, regulating various body functions, including your sleep schedule. Your body's internal cycle rises and falls during the 24 hours, helping you maintain your sleep-wake balance throughout the day.

Your brain has the master circadian clock that coordinates the internal cycle to work effectively, balancing your sleep schedule and wakefulness.

Circadian Clock

This inner biological clock resets every day following the sun's light and dark period, and regulates:

  • Your sleep and wake cycles
  • Changes in body temperature
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Eating and digesting patterns

How Does Circadian Rhythm Work?

The circadian pacemaker, called the suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN), located in the hypothalamus part of the brain, synchronizes your body's internal biological rhythm with the 24-hour solar cycle.

When light travels through the optic nerves, and hits the SCN, it transmits signals through the brain, releasing hormones that can affect your body temperature, and change your sleep cycles.

For instance, SCN triggers the release of the hormone melatonin every night, which helps your body get into sleep mode. In the morning, SCN releases cortisol, which triggers your body to wake up.

Why do We Have Day and Night?

Although the earth appears to stand still, it is actually rotating. Once every 24 hours, the earth rotates on its axis points. Once we are on the side facing the sun, we experience daytime. After 24 hours with the earth's rotation, we move to the opposite side, and experience darkness or nighttime.

If you look at the earth from the top of the North Pole, you can see the earth's rotation is counterclockwise. You can see day and night happening across the globe from east to west.

Does the Length of Days Change Throughout the Year?

You can experience an average of 12 hours of sunlight during daytime from any place on the earth, even though the actual daytime period might fluctuate throughout the year.

If you are at any place on the earth's equator, you can experience about an equal amount of day and night, that is about 12 hours each. On the other hand, people in the North Pole would receive 24 hours of sun for a few months, and months filled with darkness for the rest of the year. The other places on the earth experience day and night in varying lengths.

Effect of the Sun on Planet Earth

Our solar system is formed by the central sun, with earth and other planets revolving around the sun in their elliptical orbits. All the planets, asteroids, and comets revolve around the sun in their respective orbits. All the orbits line up to form a flat disc called the orbital plane in space.

The sun is a star formed from a mass of dust and gas, held together by gravity. The sun repeatedly undergoes nuclear fusion, creating hydrogen and helium gases, and generating powerful energy that travels as energy and heat to the earth.

Scientists claim that most stars like the sun would eventually run out of hydrogen fuel, and shrink and cool down into white dwarfs.

The sun helps increase the temperature of the planet earth, and maintains life and energy. When the sun's hot rays move through space, and reach the earth's surface, it helps produce heat, and as much energy and power as required to sustain life on the planet. The heat and power from the sun helps create oil, gas, and fossil fuels that contribute to the world's energy production.

The moon, the only satellite of planet earth, also gets its light by reflecting the sun's rays. It orbits around the planet in about 27.322 days.

Sun has spent the last 5 billion years turning hydrogen into helium, and transmitting heat and energy to the earth. After another 5 billion years, it will most likely transform into a white dwarf, and might even stop shining.

The gravitational forces from the sun keep all the planets, including the planet earth, in their orbits in outer space while they revolve around the sun.

The sun is very significant on the earth, as it influences the weather, oceans, and sea currents, and affects seasons and temperatures, thereby helping to support plants through photosynthesis. If there wasn't enough solar energy in this planet, it would be impossible for life to be found.

Without solar radiation, Earth would be nothing more than icy rock. The Sun energizes our oceans by warming them up, agitating our air conditions, creating the weather conditions, and generating energy to grow vegetation, providing life on Earth.

How do We Have Seasons?

Rotation around the earth's axis points helps us experience day and night. But the planet earth rotates at an angle of 23.5 degrees, tilted to its orbital plane. In June, the earth's axis points tilt towards the North Pole, while it tilts towards the South Pole in December.

In June, the planet earth tilts towards the northern hemisphere, causing the sun's power rays to hit it directly, causing the summer season. Again, in December, the planet earth gets tilted towards the South Pole, moving the sun's rays towards the southern hemisphere, causing winter solstice season in the northern hemisphere.

When the northern hemisphere gets closest to the sun's heat on June 21st, it receives the maximum sunlight, causing it to have the longest day and shortest night. It is called the summer solstice.

When the northern hemisphere gets farthest from the sun's heat on Dec 21st, it has the longest nights and shortest daytime period, causing the winter solstice.

This northern hemisphere pattern gets reversed in the southern hemisphere.

Between summer and winter solstice, when the earth is 90 degrees away from the sun, we get about 12 hours of day and night. It happens on Mar 21st as the spring equinox, and again on Sept 21st as the fall equinox. During the spring equinox, the sun crosses the equator, and heads north.

The distance between the sun and earth is 1.58 x 10 -5 light-years, and it takes sunlight about 8.3 minutes to travel from the sun to the planet earth through the earth’s atmosphere.

How does Sunlight Affect Your Circadian Rhythm?

According to scientists, the wavelength of the sun's power rays during sunrise and sunset can affect your circadian rhythm, regulating your mood and alertness.

The human eye has a pigment called melanopsin, which is responsible for regulating your circadian rhythms. It helps in memory, and cognitive functions, boosts alertness and moods in an individual, and is sensitive to blue light.

The retina has cone photo receptors that respond to both the short wave length of the blue light and the longer wavelength of orange and yellow contrasting lights, available during sunrise and sunset.

Scientists have identified the retina's amacrine cells that respond to the photosensitive ganglion cells (ipRGC), activating the circadian brain centers.

Sunlight is still a powerful mechanism that boosts your circadian rhythm, syncing your outside environment with your inner body.

Sunlight can affect the circadian rhythm as follows:

The Power & Intensity of the Sunlight

Lights with longer wavelengths like orange and yellow from natural sunlight can activate the circadian rhythm more effectively than the shorter wave of the blue lights generated by artificial lights.

Light from the morning sun can activate the circadian rhythm to release cortisol that wakes you up. The evening rays trigger melatonin production, and help you sleep better during the night, so that when darkness falls, you’ll begin to feel sleepy.

A study shows how people who spend more time outdoors in the mornings get more advantages from the morning light, and is linked to fewer sleep disturbances.

The Timing of the Day:

The intensity of the sunlight and the timing of the daylight can play a significant role in balancing your circadian rhythm, whether you live in the southern hemisphere, or northern hemisphere. Studies show that exposure to blue wavelengths of the morning light activates wakefulness in people where the effect can last until evening.

In contrast, exposure to blue lights from electronic devices during nighttime can promote wakefulness, and disrupt your sleep routine.

Ways to Improve Sleep Routine Using the Circadian Cycle

Here are some steps you can take to improve your circadian cycle, and have a great sleep routine:

Wake up with the Sun

The sun's morning rays contain blue light that promotes wakefulness, and helps you get energized for the day, whether you live in the northern hemisphere, or southern hemisphere.

Getting up early, and going outside for a walk can help you get the maximum benefit from the early morning sunshine. It would activate your hormones, helping you stay alert and energized during the day.

Maintain a Sleep Routine

If you go to bed at different times during the night, create a sleep routine, and stick to it. Having a daily routine can help your body adjust to a fixed sleep schedule, improving your sleep cycle.

Avoid Bright Lights at Night

Artificial lights are short wave blue lights that have a more substantial effect on your circadian rhythm than the sun's rays' long yellow and orange lights.

Exposure to blue lights around bedtime through electronic devices, for example, can make you alert, and disrupt your sleep routine. Maintaining darkness in your bedroom can help you fall asleep quickly.

Use Mornings for Exercise

To balance out your circadian rhythm, you need to keep strenuous exercises for the morning. Exercise can raise your core body temperature, increase your heart rate, and prompt your body to release adrenaline that can wake you up.

If you prefer to work out at night, try gentle exercises, like tai chi or yoga, that relax your muscles, and promote better sleep.

Avoid Daytime Naps

If you feel tired during the daytime, taking a short nap can freshen you up. But make sure not to sleep more than 30 mins, as that may disrupt your nighttime sleep routine, making it difficult to fall asleep.

Avoid Caffeine at Bedtime

You need to avoid caffeine close to bedtime to improve your sleep quality, and maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.

Having caffeine too close to bedtime can keep you alert, disrupting your sleep cycle. Caffeine can shift your circadian clock, delaying your sleep schedule.

Invest in Comfortable Bedding

If you are sleeping on uncomfortable mattresses, the aches and pains in your body can disrupt the day and night circadian rhythm schedule, making it difficult to fall asleep.

To have a comfortable sleep, invest in a mattresses from a brands like Eco Terra, which makes high-quality mattresses from natural latex.

Takeaway:

To have a healthy sleep-wakeful balance, you need to make sure the circadian cycle in your body is in balance. Beginning and ending your days with the sun's cycle can keep you energized during the day, making you happy, healthy, and productive.

Patrick Gunther

Patrick is an accomplished writer. He has been in the retail mattress space for the past 11 years, and more specifically in the natural mattress niche. He blogs on the subjects of natural mattresses, sleep, health, fitness, and green living.



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