Personal Restart: Circadian Rhythm Influences Our Sleep

I got an interesting email from one of our readers who questioned her own sleep habits after reading last month’s sleep article.

Meet Tina. Tina is a 32 year old healthy night shift nurse who is also a fitness trainer. She sleeps 8 hours a day, eats only Non-GMO organic foods, is well hydrated, has optimized her hormones, works out, and meditates regularly.

Tina’s schedule: She works 7pm to 7am, 3 days a week. She hopes she can fall asleep when she gets home. On the other days, she is working as a fitness trainer and struggles to keep the same sleeping schedule as the rest of her family.

Tina’s concern: She is frustrated as she feels sluggish and the recovery from her workout sessions is slow. This is a problem for Tina, as her clients rely on her for motivation and energy.

Tina’s biggest complaint: As with all of us, if we don’t look good, we don’t feel good, and Tina’s main complaint is that she cannot lose her belly fat. Tina suspected that her sleeping routine may be causing havoc with her body.

She is 100% correct. Her Circadian Rhythm (CR) is completely disrupted. We heal, we evolve, and we grow while we sleep. We touched on this to some extent in my August sleep article. Sleeping hours are the ONLY time our body gets to be on stand-by. When in stand-by, the endocrine system produces the powerful chemicals that signal the body to direct our resources toward recovery, repair, and regeneration.

This amazing chemical symphony relies heavily on a healthy and efficient CR, our internal biological timer, which is activated by the surrounding light. The activation of this system is led by the hypothalamus, which is the part of the brain that coordinates the activity of the autonomic nervous system with the activity of the pituitary. Think of the the hypothalamus as the air traffic controller who directs the inbound (the pituitary) with the outbound (autonomic nervous system) to include the taxiing and parked planes (the resting and recovering nervous system).

The autonomic nervous system has 2 systems: the fight or flight response or the rest and recovery response. The pituitary generates the hormones such as cortisol, growth hormone, prolactin, and more.

The hypothalamus initiates a body wide cascade that halts the rest and recovery stage of our 24 hour daily cycle and does not turn off until these signals are removed from our environment.  

How is the CR disrupted? Artificial Light. From an evolutionary standpoint, our CR has been tied to the Sun, the only natural source of light. The age of industrialization introduced synthetic sources of light. Long after the sun has set, our body is still “on”. This artificial light has effectively halted the processes in which our body switches into the recovery and repair mode. Of course Tina hasn’t lost her belly fat, her brain is still signaling her pituitary to churn out the cortisol.

These strong sources of light come from bright TVs, games, smartphones, and other devices. As a culture, we are accustomed to using these products, and it’s disrupting our CR! It doesn’t matter the number of hours that we sleep. Remember that Tina was sleeping 8 hours per night.

What truly matters is the sleep quality. Specialist refer to this as sleep efficiency. How efficient is the air traffic controller in directing the inbound and outbound planes with the parked or taxiing planes? If our CR is disrupted, there is no efficiency, productivity is halted, or worse: accidents happen.

So when we are turned “on” by the artificial light, this produces an incongruency with our evolutionary blueprint. This timing of being “on” delays or totally eliminates our natural rest and recovery phase, reduces our healing hormonal input, and makes us start a new day with the old day’s leftovers. Our bodies’ longevity, composition, energy level, and immune system will then suffer greatly as well. It’s like fueling our gas tank with gas containing sludge. The quality of sleep is poor. There’s no efficiency in sleep.

Our CR affects our arousal and alertness, learning and memory, appetite and hunger, stress and youthfulness, body composition, and our cognitive and physical prowess and performance. So it didn’t matter that Tina was taking supplements, eating organic and non-gmo foods, working out, and sleeping 8 hours a day. Her CR was totally out of whack.

We cannot replace a faulty CR with better nutrition, exercise regimen, and supplements. Our modern 24-7 society is not functioning congruently with the nature in which our CR is so closely tied.

You can see why a healthy and optimal CR plays such an integral and fundamental part in maintaining a well balanced and healthy body and lifestyle. Without a well functioning CR, our physique and cognitive capacity will not thrive, will fail under stress, and will not respond as we would expect from every other positive steps that we would make in our life.

So how do we restore our CR from being disrupted? Easy. Just follow these guidelines.

    1. Get bright light at the beginning of the day at least within 30 minutes of waking up. Tina was getting bright light when she was trying to sleep as she is a night shift worker. So, my recommendation to her was to use blue blocker glasses from the time she left her work until right before she goes to sleep, then wearing sleep mask to bed.
    2. Make sure to block out all the Blue light and coordinate this with the sun setting.
    3. Block out the light when you sleep and don’t use night lights, because just a small amount of light, even from red night lights, will disrupt CR.
    4. Make sure to eat your meals at least 3 hours before bedtime. Late-night eating disrupts CR and significantly reduces sleep quality. The digestive system requires the most energy, which means that while you are sleeping, your body is working overtime to digest. Eating meals late, or late night snacking makes you wake up tired and feel sluggish throughout the day. Eating within 3 hours of falling asleep shuts down growth hormone production, testosterone hormone production, and significantly reduces thyroid function, which all leads to lack of repair and significant drop in usage of calories, which adds to hoarding of calories in the form of fat. My Suggestion to Tina was to pack her dinner and eat it at work so that at least 3 hours pass between dinner and sleep.
    5. Decompress throughout the day, because stress disrupts the CR. Easy to do, just breathe deeply throughout the day. Don’t wait till bedtime to decompress. Meditate, laugh, play!
    6. Exercise during the daytime and at least 4 hours before bedtime.
    7. Turn down your AC at least 2 hours before bedtime. When the body’s temperature drops, the body feels tired and correlates with the CR. Hospital temperatures are cold, so since Tina worked as a nurse, my recommendation was to wear thermal undergarments or sweaters during the day. Our bodies expect to be warmer during the day, which keeps us awake, and cold at night, which triggers sleep.

When we function outside of our bodies’ neurochemical blueprint, the price of such divergence is degeneration and disintegration of our biophysiologic make-up. This leads to metabolic syndrome and chronic diseases, chronic inflammatory states and compromised immune system, anxiety and depression, physical and neuro-degenerative disorders, pain and fatigue, cardiovascular diseases, and Cancer.

The onus is on us to invoke these good habits to restore the CR to prevent these unnecessary but unhealthy outcomes.

Tina, it was a pleasure speaking to you and I am very hopeful you will soon see your belly fat go away and you will wake up feeling refreshed with these minor tweaks, coupled with your awesome lifestyle choices, you will reap the benefits of restoring your CR.  Please spread the word to your clients. As for you, my dear readers, please do not hesitate to contact me with any of your health concerns. I am happy to be of service.  Please email me directly at [email protected] or visit


About Veronica Nabizadeh

Introducing Healing Health Coach Veronica Nabizadeh For your Personal Restart Our military life exposed me to many deeply rooted cultures and traditions, which cultivated our family values. I experienced life in various cities in Germany, Korea and Italy before living in the U.S. At an early age, I learned how to pack up and restart somewhere new. It was refreshing to re-invent myself, always hoping to do things better and with more ease. I was born in a scantily populated German town called Landstuhl. My father became an American citizen by enlisting in the Army and we lived in Europe for most of my young adult life. I am the second of four children and am proud to be a first-generation American of Mexican heritage. Today, I'm a devoted wife of 18 years and mom to my seven year-old-princess. While I am a Florida licensed attorney, I have always had the privilege of working with my husband in our medical practice. I've had the opportunity to study life and relationship coaching with Tony Robbins and Strategic Intervention and am a Master Certified Health and Wellness Coach through the Catalyst Coaching Institute. It's easy to renew oneself with the added benefit of youth, change of environment, living under the roof of one's parents and without the bumps and bruises suffered due to life's lessons. We were invincible, indestructible as young individuals. Getting old, feeling old was off the radar. As an adult however, It's so easy to find oneself in a rut. We've paid our dumb taxes (not related to IRS) and suffered through the lessons that life has presented to us. Some of those lessons, being repeats. In a non-sustainable way, we fixed our ideas, shaped our viewpoints, limited our beliefs and all of this negatively impacted the health of our bodies. We start feeling old before our time. Well, on one fine day, I found myself in the fast lane of a downward spiral. I had inadvertently and unequivocally formed a very nice rut for myself and I decided I needed to get out. Pronto. This is the basis for the creation of Personal Restart, a lifestyle and medical wellness practice that helps people do exactly that: Restart. We help people restart their lives through the use of cutting edge coaching practices and state of the art medical science. I have had a personal restart and feel that my life is spiraling up. I believe that everyone has the ability to look and feel their best through self-love, self-healing and self-reliance. Everyone deserves to have their hormones balanced, their energy restored and their limited beliefs replaced by the truth. I'm a self-taught herbalist and aromatherapist, practicing kitchen witchery at home for my family and friends. My kitchen is my favorite place in my home. I love making my own infusions, tinctures and body lotions and filling my medicine cabinet with workable natural products that I've created. Cooking for my family gives me so much joy. I've learned how to prepare healthy noninflammatory meals by fusing Persian and Mexican cuisines. My dream is to gently awaken the powerful spirit in all of us, helping us heal from the inside out, and experience the gift of living through health, gratitude, and forgiveness. It is an honor to write health and wellness articles for EU Jacksonville and it is my hope to share and spread my knowledge of how to do and be your best because it can be done if you so desire. If you want a personal restart, please call us at Personal Restart, 904-565-1001.