Can I Reset My Circadian Rhythm? How to Reset Your Body Clock for Better Rest

Learn all about how your body’s internal clock functions and discover science-backed strategies for recalibrating it for better rest.


Science-backed strategies to recalibrate your body clock for better rest

Ever found yourself wide awake at 2 AM, wondering why sleep evades you, despite the long, exhausting day? This nocturnal puzzle often stems from our body's master clock, the circadian rhythm, being out of sync. 

Our internal rhythm orchestrates everything from sleep to metabolism, yet modern life—with late-night scrolling and irregular schedules—tosses this delicate balance into disarray. But by understanding and resetting our circadian rhythm, we uncover not just the secret to better sleep, but to improved overall health. 

Keep reading to relearn how to listen to our body's natural cues in a world that often mutes them.

What is a circadian rhythm?

Circadian rhythm: it's like the body's own personal conductor, orchestrating the symphony of our daily lives, from when we feel sleepy to when we're most alert. This internal clock, deeply embedded in our biology, runs on a roughly 24-hour cycle, influencing not just our sleep but virtually every system in our bodies—metabolism, mood, even the way we respond to medications. 

It's all about timing, with cues like light and darkness guiding the rhythm in sync with the world around us. However, when our lifestyle—staring at screens late into the night, irregular sleep schedules, jet lag—starts to muffle the conductor's cues, the symphony can start to unravel. 

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a disrupted circadian rhythm can lead to a wide array of health issues, not just poor sleep, but also affecting our weight, heart health, and overall mood. Keeping it in check involves fine-tuning our body's internal clock through lifestyle changes for optimal health and harmony.

Signs your circadian rhythm is off

Feeling out of sync can be more than just an off day; it might be your body's way of waving a red flag. When your circadian rhythm gets knocked off its beat, the effects ripple across your entire well-being. Here's how to tell if your internal clock needs a tune-up:

  • Insomnia
  • Daytime sleepiness
  • Irregular sleep patterns
  • Difficulty waking up
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Fluctuations in mood 

Even if you clock enough sleep but can't shake off that daytime fog, it’s a hint your internal clock’s mismatched with your lifestyle. And if your sleep’s a rollercoaster of insomnia and oversleeping, that’s your circadian rhythm crying for help. These rhythm changes can blur your focus and flip your mood switch too often, so spotting these cues early is key to reset your clock and get back to feeling like yourself.

How can I reset my circadian rhythm?

If your internal clock feels like it's been set to the wrong timezone, you're not alone. Our modern lifestyles often push our circadian rhythms off-kilter, but the good news is, recalibration is within reach. Adjusting your body's internal clock only requires some mindful adjustments to your daily routines. 

Here are the steps to gently nudge your circadian rhythm back to its natural beat:

Step 1: Let the sunshine in 

Morning light: not just for birds and early risers, rather a signal to your brain that it's time to start the day. Studies like this one related to night shift work suggest that exposure to natural light within the first hour of waking can significantly improve your mood and alertness, thanks to its ability to reset your circadian rhythm. If the sun's rays are scarce, a light therapy box can be a great stand-in, mimicking the benefits of natural sunlight.

Step 2: Stick to a schedule

More than a virtue; consistency is a necessity for syncing your sleep schedule. Various studies have supported this, demonstrating that individuals with regular sleep and wake times reported better sleep quality overall. A sleep tracking app is a useful tool to help you stay consistent and accountable.

Step 3: Mind your meals 

Research suggests that nighttime snacking on heavy or caffeinated foods can throw off your sleep, while a balanced intake of nutrients like tryptophan, magnesium, and calcium is associated with improved sleep quality. Planning your meals accordingly can keep your internal clock ticking correctly.

Step 4: Move it or snooze it

Regular physical activity can help sync your circadian rhythm by boosting daytime alertness and promoting sleepiness at night. However, bear in mind that when you exercise determines this. Always aim to exercise in the morning or afternoon to avoid stimulating your body too close to bedtime.

Step 5: Manage blue light exposure

Evening screen time can be the arch-nemesis of melatonin, your body's sleep hormone. The blue light emitted from screens is notably good at tricking your brain into thinking it's daytime and can exacerbate sleep problems. Implementing a digital sunset, turning off electronic devices an hour before bed, can help.

Step 6: Wind down to drift off

Who doesn’t love a bit of pampering? Make a point of developing a relaxing bedtime routine to signal your body that it's time to wind down. This could be reading a book, taking a warm bath, or practicing meditation. Such rituals can ease the transition to sleep, enhancing your body's readiness for rest.

Clocking back to inner harmony

Remember, a well-regulated circadian rhythm is the cornerstone of not only great sleep but also your overall health. With the steps we've outlined, you have the power to recalibrate your body's clock, paving the way for a sleep cycle that brings out the best in your day-to-day life and boosts your quality of life.


Written by

Georgia Austin

Professionally trained copywriter, editor, and content marketing strategist with over 7 years of experience—working with brands like Nike, Siemens, Toshiba, Tommy Hilfiger, Culture Trip, and Klook.

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