Circadian rhythms, improving sleep in the winter

Healthy Living

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WAIT) — This week’s Living Well with Michelle is all about getting consistent, quality sleep in the winter.

One in three adults don’t get enough sleep, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Michelle met with UAB behavioral sleep medicine clinic director Dr. Stephen Thomas to talk about circadian rhythms — the body processes related to sleep and wakefulness. He said having consistent exposure to light during regular daylight hours can help the body stay in a natural cycle.

“Get plenty of light in the morning, take breaks during the day if you’re in dimly lit environments,” said Thomas. “And then I would say in the evenings, just be very careful about how much light you’re exposed to.”

Light exposure also has an effect on the body’s ability to naturally produce melatonin. For those taking melatonin in supplement form, timing is important.

“Most people will buy melatonin and take it right at bedtime, kind of like using it as a sleeping pill,” said Thomas. “When actually if somebody has a circadian rhythm issue with the timing of their sleep, they really need to be taking melatonin most of the time a little bit earlier.”

In those cases, Thomas recommends taking melatonin three to five hours before bed.

WATCH to see the morning team discuss wearing blue-light-blocking glasses going to bed.


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