We all have those days when we seem to be spending more time refilling our coffee cup than working because we haven’t slept properly. Whether it’s due to jet lag, daylight saving time — or in more serious cases, insomnia — a body clock that’s out of whack can take a serious toll on our health. Beyond crankiness and low motivation, poor sleep can interfere with the ability to learn and retain information and may increase the risk of accidents and injury. In the long term, sleep deprivation may lead to a range of health problems, including obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease. To get back on track and learn how to reset your circadian rhythm naturally, explore our guide to fixing your sleep schedule, which includes setting up a bedtime routine, using natural supplements such as functional mushrooms and more.
Use Light Cues
According to the National Sleep Foundation, light is the most easily accessible tool for resetting our circadian rhythm. When it’s dark outside, our brains naturally signal our bodies to release melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel sleepy. When it’s light outside, our brains send a signal to diminish the melatonin supply, making us feel more awake. To shift your circadian rhythm earlier, dim the lights in your home about an hour before bedtime to signal to your body that it’s almost time for sleep. When your alarm goes off in the morning, turn on as many lights as possible and expose yourself to sunshine to feel more alert.
Have a Relaxing Bedtime Routine
To help your body unwind and prepare for sleep, implement a relaxing bedtime ritual. This may include practicing gentle yoga or meditation, powering down screens or taking a hot bath. Transform your bedroom into a sleep sanctuary with a cool temperature between 60 and 67 degrees Fahrenheit and no distracting lights or sounds.
Try Functional Mushrooms
Functional mushrooms offer another natural way to reset your circadian rhythm. When taken before bed, Reishi mushrooms can help balance mental and physical stress, leading to both better sleep and a stronger immune system. While reishi mushrooms have been used for hundreds of years in China to treat insomnia and restlessness, recent studies confirm that the mushroom has the ability to prolong total sleep time, including non-rapid eye movement sleep — or deeper sleep.
Not all mushrooms should be taken before bed. Other functional mushrooms, such as Cordyceps and Lion’s Mane, can reset your circadian rhythm with a more energizing effect when taken in the morning after a good night’s sleep. Cordyceps was linked to enhancement of physical stamina after it gained attention during the Chinese National Games in 1993, when a group of women athletes broke nine world records and credited Cordyceps for their success. Lion’s Mane has the distinctive ability to stimulate the synthesis of nerve growth factor and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, proteins that support the growth and normal function of nerve cells to help you stay more alert throughout the day. Mushrooms such as Chaga can be paired with CBD, which has been shown to regulate sleep stability so you can sleep deeper and wake with more energy.
Maintain a Consistent Sleep Schedule (Even on Weekends)
Finally, a key component of achieving better sleep and getting your body clock on track is to wake up at the same time every day and try to go to sleep at the same time every night. While this may be more difficult on weekends, try not to vary your wake-up time by more than an hour on the weekends. And if you’re a fan of naps, limit them to 30 minutes to avoid feeling groggy the rest of the day.
If you suspect your sleep issues are due to a more serious problem, see your healthcare professional to devise a plan that works best for you.
Erica Garza is an author and essayist from Los Angeles. Her writing has appeared in TIME, Health, Glamour, Good Housekeeping, Women's Health, and VICE.