The way you think about sleep is wrong

“I didn’t get nearly enough sleep last night.”

“I need to get to bed sooner.”

“I just can’t wake up in the morning, and I’m not a morning person.”

We often think of sleep as a debt to be paid to some mysterious collector. Sleep evades us when we most want it and won’t let us go when we desperately want to become early birds. Sleep exists as its own entity, separate from the rest of our body’s functioning.

But in actuality, sleep is deeply enmeshed with the rest of what our body’s got going on. What we do over the whole day affects our sleep, just like how our sleep affects our whole day. It’s not just the few hours before bed the matter; it’s all of it. To get the sleep we so desperately crave, we need to recognize that it’s a rhythm.

Circadian rhythms are the name for the once daily(ish) clockwork of life. Circadian rhythms govern almost every system in our body: including metabolism, immune response, DNA repair, and physical performance.

To take charge of your circadian rhythms, you must start by understanding the different elements that push and pull at them. How much light you get and when you get it is the biggest influence on your circadian clock and, by proxy, when it cues your melatonin levels to rise.

Melatonin in turn sets the stage for your body’s night, rising when your body wants you to sleep (so long as you’re in the dark) and dissipating when your body thinks it’s time to wake up. Time the orchestra of factors correctly, and you won’t have to fight off the grogginess that comes from trying to wake up a body that thinks it’s still night. By thinking of sleep as a rhythm, you can get into the sleep groove you’re craving.

To understand these timings and get personalized recommendations, ask your employer to pilot Shift or join our Early Access Program by downloading the app and requesting access.