How to Optimize Your Daily Rhythm for Mental Health

by Dr. Fiona Smulders, ND

We all know that getting a good night’s sleep is important for our general health, but did you know that the rhythm of day-time and night-time activity is equally as important?

A new study by The Lancet Psychiatry revealed the effects of daily sleep-wake cycles on mood disorders, wellbeing and cognitive function. This study analyzed the sleep-wake cycles of 91 105 participants aged 37-73 years old. They found that those individuals with increased activity at night and decreased activity during the day were more susceptible to mood disorders like depression, bipolar disorder, mood instability, and neuroticism with lower health satisfaction.

Those of us living in urban areas have a higher chance of disruption within our circadian rhythms. Artificial light and computer, phone and TV use increase our brain’s neural activity at night and inhibits our natural melatonin production. Sedentary indoor desk jobs and long commutes driving to and from work reduce our activity during the day, further misbalancing our circadian rhythms.

In order to bring your circadian rhythm back into balance and optimize your daily rhythm for mental health, try the following strategies:

  1. Reduce stimulation in the evenings

    Blue screens are very stimulating to our nervous systems. Create a “cut off time” for your screen time at least 1 hour before bed to let your nervous system settle into a calm state. You can also try screen diming apps like ‘Flux’ to reduce blue light exposure.

  2. Go to bed at the same time every night

    Getting to bed sometime between 9-11pm is the best time to ensure a restful sleep.

  3. Create a morning routine

    Creating a morning routine can set the tone for the rest of the day. If you wake up at the same time every day and begin your day with a morning meditation, yoga practice or exercise routine you will feel more grounded and energized for the rest of the day.

  4. Create a daily exercise routine

    Creating a daily exercise routine will make exercise become a habit instead of a chore. It is important to get some form of exercise in the morning or early afternoon to provide your body with enough natural stimulation in the day to ensure a deeper sleep.

  5. Get outside during the day

    Exposure to natural light during the day can help to re-set your circadian rhythm. Try going for a walk in the morning or during your lunch break.

If you would like support in creating your daily routine to improve mental health, you can book an appointment with me to discuss the best options for you!

Yours in Health,

Dr. Fiona

Dr. Smulders is a Naturopathic Doctor and offers appointments at Local Health Integrative Clinic on Tuesdays , Thursdays and Saturdays. Click here to book an appointment with Fiona.