Never heard of circadian entrainment? Here’s how the method can boost your wellness routine (plus how to do it)

February 11, 2020 at 10:00AM by CWC


If you’ve ever struggled to break out of your foggy morning haze or felt ravenous for sugar-filled snacks after a night of just okay sleep, it’s not your lazy-Sunday mentality taking over—it might be that your circadian rhythm (you know, your internal clock that tells you when to feel sleepy) is out of sync.

There’s no need for panic, though, because you can do something about it—it’s called circadian entrainment. Sounds intimidating, but it’s really just exposing yourself to the right kind of light at the correct time of day, so that your body can produce its natural responses (re: getting sleepy once it’s dark out and feeling alert when it’s sunny).

“Our bodies function and respond in synchrony to the natural patterns of the planet: The sun rises and sets each day, seasons come and go, and temperatures, humidity, [etc] are all perceived through our senses to determine our physiological responses,” says Dr. Doug Steel, transitional scientist with NerouSense.

But, modern life and tech have sent nearly everyone indoors (ugh, jobs), which means we now control how we reproduce these previously natural responses, Dr. Steel says. “We work indoors during the day with moderate intensity light exposure, which is about 100 to1,000 times dimmer than sunlight,” he says.

Basically, the way we interact with light as modern humans goes against everything our bodies are naturally programmed to do.

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Once we’re in wind-down mode at home, we’re still exposing ourselves to light that’s 100 to1000 times brighter than what we would be exposed to if we were in nature. Basically, the way we interact with light as modern humans goes against everything our bodies are naturally programmed to do.

The solution isn’t just a bedtime routine 30 minutes before you dive into your sheets. There are two critical times of day you should focus on: when you first wake up and the last two hours of the evening, Dr. Steel says. “If you get these two right, everything else pretty much falls into place, and allows you to adjust lighting throughout the day to suit your preference.” (Makes you rethink your office lighting, huh?)

In addition to circadian entrainment (don’t worry, there’s more info coming!), you can add lighting to your home that’s meant to help you get back in sync. The Brilli Well-Bright Spectrum was designed to promote better well-being by simulating the effects of sunrise and sunset, so that your body can get back to responding to light the way it was meant to—leaving you refreshed in the morning and drowsy once bedtime hits, instead of guzzling coffee in the morning and wired at night. If you know the struggle, you know it’s real.

Want to learn even more about circadian entrainment? Keep scrolling for a deep-dive on what it is and how to do it.

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Author Well+Good Editors | Well and Good
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