The curtains may be drawn and the fan providing the white-noise but something’s missing, sleep!
A person recently moaned to this writer that they were “so busy that they couldn’t sit down for fear of falling asleep”. Another admitted to falling asleep on the toilet after being named and shamed by his very surprised, and just a little concerned Wife. Sounds odd, but the problem may be down to internal confusion. The environment required for high quality sleep extends beyond the external. Unless we are happy to down sleeping aides we need the right internal environment as well.
You see, humans have historically relied on a little hormone named melatonin to induce this state of drowsiness, which precipitates falling asleep. This hormone induced drowsiness is the onset to deactivation, whereby all non vital hardware will go offline as we drift away to the never-never, so recharging can occur.
So what if we didn’t get drowsy? What is we got tired but never drowsy. Well, eventually we would collapse, and yes, we would sleep, so what’s the problem?
This is: When you’re constantly tired, you’re not living your best life, merely a substitute for it. The chances you’ll forget an acquaintance’s name increases. The likelihood you’ll have to run back into the house to grab the car keys you forgot also increases. Sure, neither of these can be considered a big deal, not in themselves anyway. But what if a person is always tired because their ‘sleep threshold’ is such that they don’t sleep until they are literally blinking at the TV.
Do Not Disturb [The Circadian Rhythm]
Sleep disruption as described above is the unhealthy alternative to our natural sleep pattern. By our own design, the intended sleep experience is supposed to be a pleasant one, it’s a temporary hiatus from a world gone mad, and it leaves us feeling refreshed and ready to go again.
The diminishing external nightfall triggered the internal release of the melatonin hormone. The result…. Consistent sleep. Sounds like a dream right? The reality looks more like ⇓ see below.
Throughout 99.99% of human history bedtime came when sunlight dimmed and ceased to illuminate the pathway or the homestead. Our ancestors relaxed a little knowing their chores and commitments were done for the day as a familiar drowsy feeling overtook them.
The Circadian Rhythm is the clock by which nearly all living things set their watch. It represents the Day / Night Cycle which kicked into gear some 4.2 Billion years ago. We adapted to it, not the other way around, and whilst it may not be a healthy idea, we can un-adapt it too.
“No no, I don’t need this silly circus rhythm, I’ll sleep when it suits me!”, said somebody on the dancefloor.
So what would this mean?
They are not the first, and definitely won’t be the last to attempt to challenge the biological status quo. Well, shift work, partying too much, binge-watching TV, all-night cramming for exams or work – these will usually result in abnormal sleeping patterns.
It Takes Two hormones to Cause One conflict
While we party or work long hours over a sustained period, we actually change internally. One of the changes is our body stops producing the right hormones, and in the right amounts, at the right times of day.
Say hello to Cortisol and Melatonin, two hormones that also set their watches to the 24hr Circadian Rhythm Time as programmed. When these two amazing hormones are in sync, our day to day life is more manageable. We get the boost in the morning, and the sleepy head at night.
…internal hormone conflict looks like this…
It’s important to understand that unhealthy hormones don’t just fail us, they can come back to bite us on the proverbial. In this case we have one angry antagonist cortisol blocking the peaceful hormone melatonin from performing. So excess cortisol or (sporadic) cortisol irregularity can and does block melatonin, preventing that drowsiness we spoke of from bridging the gap to the never never.
We don’t mention much about the symptoms of fatigue here as that’s another post for another time. But two common symptoms of this internal hormone conflict are demotivation and lethargy. We can feel exhausted in the morning and lay wide awake all night. That’s something you now know, that when hormones are out of balance, they can actually make life more difficult.
Checking cortisol and/or melatonin behaviour is a great idea. Not only is it affordable, it can be done without contact from home in 7 days. The results Graphs will show the times when these hormones are active. Armed with this knowledge, we can use established methods to steer our hormones back into their respective lanes and out of each others path if we need to.
That’s all folk’s, and if you did enjoy this be sure to share it with anyone that appears tired!
Posted by Guy Saywell,
Part time writer, full time Manager at TestoChecker®
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