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How to Optimize Your Circadian Rhythm to Boost Metabolism

While it’s obvious that when we exercise vigorously, we are burning calories, there are times we are burning calories even when we’re not doing activity. The amount of calories that are being burned normally, or our resting metabolic rate, is crucial to help keep the pounds down. There are actually a number of strategies to help with our resting metabolic rate, and this will be the first of seven articles about different methods to do that. The first one we’re going to focus on is using your circadian rhythm more effectively.

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The Circadian Rhythm

When most weight-loss plans encourage the idea of just eating less and working out more, they don’t highlight that there are other factors that can certainly affect your body. One of the most important one is our sleeping habits. We have an inbuilt rhythm in our bodies called the “circadian rhythm” that regulates our body’s functionality.

The circadian rhythm is our natural internal processes that regulates when we should be awake and when we should be asleep. The quality and adherence to our sleep behavior is very much overlooked when it comes to improving our lifestyles. The light that comes into our environment also has a major impact on the quality of sleep we’re getting.

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Different Types Of Light And Their Impact

There are three types of light that are out there: ultraviolet light, visible light, and infrared light. Each type of light has an effect on our bodies, our circadian rhythm, and ultimately our metabolism.

Ultraviolet light is the kind that gives people sunburns. There are three types of this kind: UVA and UVB, as well as UVC, which doesn’t hit the Earth in large amounts because of the planet’s atmosphere. Visible light includes all the colors in the rainbow and is the one type that we can see with our eyes, hence the name. Infrared light causes you to feel hot when you’re spending time in the sun.

Our circadian rhythm ends up being influenced when blue and green light enters the eye. This light essentially alerts your body that it’s no longer nighttime. When someone is sleep deprived, their basal metabolic rate increases temporarily, but mostly from levels of stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol being raised. But there is evidence that suggests that poorer sleep quality can lower your basal metabolic rate more permanently.

While not getting enough sleep for a short-term amount of time because you have a newborn baby or you stayed up all night partying isn’t horribly detrimental, if it becomes something that you’ve done for years, that’s a problem. Studies have found that nearly 50% of Americans have poor sleep quality every night.

What you eat matters with weight loss, but also how you’re sleeping does too.

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What Can You Do To Improve Circadian Rhythm

The first step in working on that basal metabolic rate is to go outside without sunglasses or sunscreen, but avoid sunburns. Early morning is the best time, and then go again at noon, if only briefly. If you’re working inside all day, red light therapy can help supplement the lack of sunlight in your life.

Another thing to do is to don blue light filtering glasses after sunset to help increase the melatonin in your brain, which helps regulate your rhythm. If artificial light enters your eyes at night (from a phone, laptop, TV, etc.), your brain will assume its daytime, and thus throw your rhythm off. It can also skew other processes in your body as well. Blue blocking glasses at night can help with this.

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Other Issues With Fat Loss From Poor Sleep

There are other indirect consequences from poor sleep that can affect weight loss. These include insulin resistance, bigger appetite, and affects on hormone levels.

If your body’s insulin is affected enough, it may mean that when you consume sugar, they will stay in the bloodstream instead of being utilized by cells. Lower insulin resistance means it’s more likely you’ll have less muscle and more body fat gradually, again slowing your basal metabolic rate. The less quality of sleep you get, the bigger the insulin problem can grow.

When you’re sleep deprived as well, you’re more likely to eat more with your hunger hormones being higher. People will also eat more unhealthy because they don’t feel great. Lower testosterone levels also have been associated with an increase in fat.

The enzyme leptin is what helps regulate when you’re hungry and need energy. With your circadian rhythm off, that can also affect your leptin signaling.

The main takeaway is to fix your improve your sleep quality, as well as keep in mind the long-term goal of improving your circadian rhythm to keep the fat down. If you regulate your light cycle. Books have been written that briefly mention the importance of circadian rhythms, such as The Hungry Brain: Outsmarting the Instincts That Make Us Overeat, though the book that really covers it is Forever Fat Loss: Escape the Low Calorie Diet Traps and Achieve Effortless and Permanent Fat Loss by Working with Your Biology Instead of Against It.