And the simple, pill-free solution to get you back on track TODAY
Modern technology allows us to sleep, eat, and work whenever we please, day or night. But just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. And while this freedom obviously comes with advantages, it also comes with a price.
That price is circadian misalignment—which happens when your body’s internal “clock” doesn’t match up with its environment. And make no mistake, it’ll hit you right where it hurts. The good news is, it’s an easy problem to fix. I’ll tell you how in just a moment.
But first, a little background…
Simply put, circadian rhythms are the biological cycles that your body runs through over a 24-hour period.
These natural patterns extend to the most basic of functions which alert your body to rest, eat, digest, release hormones, and regulate your body temperature and blood pressure, just to name a few. Every organ in your body works according to this internal clock. Cues from both inside and outside the body combine to set the schedule. And no living organism is exempt from their influence.
These cycles change with age and adapt to your environment. But that doesn’t mean they’re flexible. And anyone who has ever suffered jet lag—or struggled to adjust after seasonal time changes—knows that this is one case where old habits die hard.
And I mean that quite literally. Because believe it or not, research shows that heart attack rates jump up by nearly 25 percent on the Monday after we “spring ahead” for daylight savings in March.1
What’s behind this lethal spike? Scientists propose a mix of factors at play—including the stress of a new work week, and the rapid change in routine it represents. But the mass circadian misalignment triggered by just one lost hour of sleep serves as the lynchpin—proving that even small disruptions in this department can add up to big consequences.
And when those disruptions are major, the news gets even worse.
The “graveyard shift” is a killer—literally
I’ve devoted a great deal of space in this newsletter and in my Reality Health Check e-letter to the dangers of sleep deprivation. But today’s discussion will serve as a reminder that it’s not just how much you sleep that matters. The timing of your sleep is every bit as important.
It goes without saying that night time is the right time for shut eye. And yet many people—due to circumstances outside of their control—are unable to get the right amount of sleep, or are unable to sleep at the ideal time of day.
Research shows that people who work night shifts are more prone to type 2 diabetes.Take, for example, a recent study that mimicked shift work in 14 healthy people. The participants spent eight days eating breakfast at 8 a.m., dinner at 8 p.m., and then sleeping during the night. Then, they reversed their schedules, spending eight days eating breakfast at 8 p.m., dinner at 8 a.m., and sleeping during the day.2
The researchers measured subjects’ glucose every day. And they discovered that their blood sugar levels were 6 percent higher when they slept during the day than when they slept at night. Their pancreases stopped functioning by up to 27 percent. And they had decreased insulin sensitivity, to boot.
All of these changes are risk factors for diabetes. And all of them took hold within a matter of days, due to the simple disruption of subjects’ natural sleep cycles.
That’s not even the half of it, either. Because it isn’t just diabetes you risk when your circadian rhythms are misaligned. Shift work ups your odds of both heart disease and cancer, too. They don’t call it the “graveyard shift” for nothing…
One 2016 study found that female nurses who had worked rotating shifts for a decade or longer suffered a 15 percent higher risk of coronary heart disease, compared with non-shift-working women. This risk was independent of any other factors, like smoking status or BMI. And fortunately, it also appeared to be reversible with a return to more normal schedule.3
Meanwhile, a meta-analysis published earlier this year showed that women working night shifts face a 19 percent higher risk of cancer overall. And a risk of skin, breast, and GI cancers that’s 41 percent, 32 percent, and 18 percent higher, respectively.4
It only makes sense, of course. Night work—and day sleeping—interferes with your pineal gland’s release of melatonin. Given this hormone’s role in preserving health (which you might recall from our discussion in the September 2013 issue), there’s nothing surprising about risks of night work.
Of course, working the night shift is an unavoidable part of life for many people. But I think it’s important to be aware of the added risks, so that you can take the necessary steps to counteract them.
And speaking of the risks of circadian misalignment, there’s one more I want to shine a spotlight on…
Why a midnight salad could still make you fat
Circadian misalignment may also play a much bigger role in our modern obesity crisis than anyone ever imagined. Laboratory experiments have shown that mice, after being restricted to an eight-hour window of eating, were slimmer and healthier. Even when they took in just as much food as mice who were free to eat around the clock, they gained less weight. They experienced less liver damage. And their levels of inflammation were lower.5
Another recent lab study showed that mice with feeding times confined to their normal circadian patterns were the only ones to lose weight on a reduced-calorie diet. This, despite the fact that day-feeders (remember, mice are nocturnal) were eating the same exact amount of food. Which would suggest that according to human circadian rhythms, night-time eating alone is enough to sabotage your diet completely—even if you’re eating healthy foods during those “off” hours.
Granted, these two studies were done in mice. But trials featuring human patients reveal many of the same patterns.
Given all of this solid data, it’s at least clear that routinely eating during hours intended for sleep doesn’t just make it harder to stay slim. It makes it nearly impossible.
The simplest way to fix a broken “clock”
You might expect the solution to circadian misalignment to focus entirely on adjusting your sleep schedule. And while that is an important component (which I address in more detail in the sidebar to the right), it’s not the only lifestyle factor involved in solving this critical issue.
In fact, one of the best ways to re-align your circadian rhythm is something most doctors never address
Laboratory research shows that exercise helps to stabilize circadian rhythm in older mice. It also shows that younger mice who stop exercising suffer the same circadian disruptions as their older counterparts.
In other words, regular exercise makes everything else about your body—from sleep to digestion—more regular, too. And in a world that’s open for business 24/7, that balance could be nothing short of lifesaving.
Unlike timing of eating and sleeping as I discussed above, it doesn’t necessarily matter when you exercise. Any exercise is better than none at all.
However, there are some added benefits to exercising during the day, if you’re able.
Studies show that early morning workouts are more effective at reducing blood pressure throughout the day than evening workouts.8 Afternoon workouts, on the other hand, appear to be better for performance.9
And if your goal is to lose weight? Well, it seems you can’t go wrong either way. Some research shows that working out on an empty stomach—that is, before breakfast—can maximize blood sugar balance, insulin sensitivity, and fat-burning.10 While other studies show that early evening walks are king for weight loss—at least among postmenopausal women.11
Whatever your goal, making time for exercise—along with a few simple, small changes regarding when you eat and sleep—could be the answer to “resetting” your body clock. And that will lead to a world of difference in how you look, feel, and function.
My top five all-natural supplements for more regular and reliable rest:
1) 5-HTP. This will induce drowsiness and also regulate your body’s sleep/wake cycle. It also supports your adrenal glands. Safe and effective doses range anywhere from 100 mg to 5,000 mg per day, right beore bedtime. (Though most people don’t need more than 1,000 mg.) It’s a big range, but start with the smallest dose and work your way up, 100 mg at a time, until you notice a difference in how quickly and easily you’re able to drift off to sleep.
2) SAM-e. This amazing amino acid helps regulate your body’s biological rhythms. I recommend 400 mg every morning.
Note: Unless you’re already taking antidepressant medications, 5-HTP and SAM-e should form the core of your sleep restoring supplement regimen. From there, you can mix and match these next three nutrients—and take daily or as needed—until you find the combination that delivers the best results:
3) L-theanine. This is the calming agent in green tea. It helps relax your mind and body so that you can drift off to sleep. I recommend 200 mg about 30 minutes before bedtime and 200 mg in the morning.
4) GABA. This is a neurotransmitter that helps your brain relax. I recommend 800 mg approximately 30 minutes before bedtime.
5) Melatonin. I really can’t overstate the importance of melatonin. Your body generates this hormone not only to help you sleep, but also to shore up your immune system. (You can find my supplement protocol for a powerhouse immune system on page 3.) And not surprisingly, production drops significantly with age. I recommend taking 3 mg of melatonin to start, but no more than 21 mg.
For more drug-free strategies on how to get better quality and more regular sleep, I encourage you to check out my Perfect Sleep Protocol. For more information, or to enroll today, click here or call (866)-747-9421 and ask for order code EOV3U310.
- Sandhu A, et al. Open Heart. 2014 Mar 28;1(1):e000019.
- Morris CJ, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Apr 28;112(17):E2225-34
- Vetter C, et al. JAMA. 2016 Apr 26;315(16):1726-34.
- Yuan X, et al. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2018 Jan;27(1):25-40.
- Hatori M, et al. Cell Metab. 2012 Jun 6;15(6):848-60.
- Acosta-Rodriguez VA, et al. Cell Metab. 2017 Jul 5;26(1):267-277.e2.
- Myllymäki T, et al. J Sleep Res. 2011 Mar;20(1 Pt 2):146-53.
- Lericollais R, et al. Chronobiol Int. 2009 Dec;26(8):1622-35.
- Van Proeyen K, et al. J Physiol. 2010 Nov 1;588(Pt 21):4289-302.
- Di Blasio A, et al. J Sports Med Phys Fitness. 2010 Jun;50(2):196-201.
- Gu C, et al. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2015 Feb 24;112(8):2320-4.