Are You in Tune with Your Circadian Rhythm?

We’re reminded that humans are part of Nature when we discover the many similarities between all living things. One interesting commonality has to do with our circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. These natural processes respond primarily to light and dark and affect most living things, including animals, plants, and microbes. One example of a light-related circadian rhythm is sleeping at night and being awake during the day.1

The study of circadian rhythms is called Chronobiology, from the Greek “chronos” meaning time, and “biology” which pertains to the study of science and life. The body follows an internal timekeeping system known as the circadian clock, and this clock is what regulates the natural circadian rhythm.

What makes up the circadian rhythm? Our daily cycles of sleeping and waking, hunger and digestion, hormonal changes and other bodily processes all pertain to the circadian rhythm. Circadian comes from Latin, “circo diem,” which literally translates to “about a day.” Most circadian rhythms automatically reset every in 24 hours, the timeframe for “circo diem.”

Circadian rhythms are not only affected by light and dark, but also by interactions with people, meal times, and hormonal fluctuations. For example, when the sun rises in the morning, the body produces cortisol, a hormone that makes us feel refreshed and alert. After waking, a healthy person will become increasingly tired throughout the day until the sun goes down, when feelings of tiredness are at their highest. As the sun begins to set, the pineal gland will release melatonin, a hormone that reduces wakefulness and alertness.

There are variations on when people feel tired and when they feel alert throughout the day. Two examples are “early risers,” who go to bed and wake up early, and “night owls” who go to bed relatively late and then sleep in. Our sleep rhythm may evolve and change with age—older people tend to go to sleep and wake up earlier in the day than younger people, while babies will sleep in multiple phases throughout the day and night.

A master clock in the brain coordinates all the biological clocks in a living thing, keeping the clocks in sync. In vertebrate animals, including humans, the master clock is a group of about 20,000 nerve cells (called neurons) located in a part of the brain called the hypothalamus where it receives direct input from the eyes. In the grand scheme of Nature, researchers have identified similarities in the master clocks of people, fruit flies, mice, plants, fungi and other organisms!

When our circadian rhythm goes out of whack, it can cause insomnia, weight gain, mood changes, anxiety, shortened attention spans, daytime sleepiness and lethargy. The good news is that we can help keep our circadian rhythm functioning smoothly.

  • Wake up every day at the same time: Keeping a regular sleep schedule will help reset your circadian rhythm. Even if unable to fall asleep at the desired time, make sure to set an alarm and wake up at the set time anyway. This will keep you on track.
  • Bright light therapy: Exposure to bright artificial lights can re-orient circadian rhythms. Different light therapy devices are available, including lightboxes, desk lamps and sunrise simulators. Before using one of these devices, it’s best to speak with a credentialed sleep medicine physician about the light exposure level and times of the day that are best suited to the particular timing of your personal circadian rhythm.2
  • Different meal times: Circadian rhythms regulate when we feel hungry and how we digest food—some studies have found that eating sooner or delaying meals can alter how your circadian rhythm adjusts those processes.
  • Exercise: Proper exercise can improve sleep quality and duration, while a healthy sleep-wake cycle ensures more strength and endurance when you work out. However, exercise is also stimulating if you work out too close to bedtime. If you find you don’t get enough sleep at night and want to reorient your circadian rhythm, try incorporating regular exercise into your routine. But as with all things related to the circadian rhythm, timing is important so do not exercise within 1-2 hours of your bedtime.
  • Keep your electronic devices off or out of sight. Light from electronic devices at night can confuse our biological clocks.

Check out the latest contribution that Nikken has made to the world of Active Wellness and sleep technology with the Kenko Naturest® Makura and Kenko Naturest® Makura Sleep Packs. When you purchase a twin, full, queen or king Makura Sleep Pack, you get 10% off automatically.

1 https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Pages/Circadian-Rhythms.

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm/can-you-change-your-circadian-rhythm

A Revolutionary Revelation in Sleep Technology

Everyone needs restful sleep. There’s no debating that it’s an integral part of Active Wellness. In fact, TED talks, white papers, sleep test centers, hypnotists, pharmaceutical companies, therapists and parents have all put in their two cents’ worth on how to achieve that often elusive state we all desire: blissful sleep.

Nikken has been a pioneer in sleep technology for decades. With the introduction of the Kenko Naturest® Fit, a mattress topper made to fit on twin, full, queen and king sized beds, Nikken took sleep technology to a higher level. Portable and life-transforming, according to many who bring their Kenko Naturest® Fit with them whenever they travel, the Fit is designed to promote complete relaxation to improve all-night sleep.

Now that people committed to getting a good night’s sleep have the Kenko Naturest® Fit to put their weary bodies on every night, Nikken has introduced a partner product to the Fit. It’s called the Kenko Naturest® Makura and it truly is a revolutionary revelation. Makura is Japanese for pillow, and this exclusive-to-Nikken pillow is not only revolutionary in sleep technology but it also has a lot to reveal.

Here’s how it works and there’s nothing to even compare it with. It’s got 3 layers that are each removable, so you can customize your Makura to your personal preference. No matter how you choose to configure your Makura, it’ll be properly contoured for your neck to provide ergonomic support and help you stay aligned with your spine.

• The first is the outer foam layer and it has Rubberthane natural latex nodules, magnets and tourmaline. If you choose to sleep on this side, you have a firm pillow that provides a massaging sensation.

• The second or middle layer is like a thin traditional pillow. Think of it as padding.

• The third layer is the other outer layer, but this one has smooth Rubberthane sans latex nodules, but still has magnets and tourmaline. If you choose this side, you have a softer cushioned pillow that cradles your head.

Those familiar with Nikken magnetic and tourmaline technology will already know that magnets provide a cocooning effect that helps improve sleep quality. Picture a newborn baby being wrapped tight into a bundle, resembling a cocoon. She feels safe and secure, just like in the womb. Magnetic technology helps grown people feel that way.

Tourmaline is an interesting gem that reacts to heat, pressure and motion. Nature gave it unusual properties—in fact the way tourmaline reacts is to make us feel like we’re actually in a soothing natural environment. Picture a serene lake, a beautiful forest, and the feeling of actually being there. That tranquil feeling naturally helps us sleep better.

Last but not least, natural latex Rubberthane helps regulate body temperatures. The side with nodules provides a self-massage. An interesting fact about the nodules is that they contain minute bits of volcanic ash extracted from the Shirasu volcano in Japan. Baked at more than 1000 degrees, they are believed to impart additional temperature regulating properties to the Rubberthane.

Whether you choose to sleep on one, two or three layers, you’re going to be a happy participant in the latest Nikken revolutionary revelation! It’s Item 13122 in the shopping cart and it’s part of the new Makura Sleep Packs.

Putting the Restful Part Back into Sleep

A third of our lives is spent sleeping and resting, but not everyone actually feels rested after spending time in bed. There are many reasons for not sleeping—maybe tomorrow brings an event that is too exciting! Or, it could be the first day of a new job or at a new school. You could be auditioning for a gig as a musician or actor. There might be a big celebration to attend—an anniversary, a birthday, so many kinds of parties!

Whatever the reason, between 10 and 30% of adults have insomnia at one time or another, but thankfully there are simple steps to take to get a sound night’s sleep. Where and how you sleep can make a difference in how well you sleep.

When you rest in an environment that is comfortable and soothing, it helps you fall asleep. Even though you are sleeping, getting enough rest is part of the Active Wellness lifestyle. Here are a few things to try.

• Keep the room dark and quiet. In other words, whenever you’re able to, keep any stimulation out. Some people fall asleep to the TV or headset every night. If you can sleep through the night that way and get up feeling rested, that’s great, but chances are, the TV and the headset could keep you awake longer.

• Try keeping your electronic devices off and see if it helps you. The cell phone is an especially big disruptor because it can jar you awake when you’re in a nice, sound sleep, and then you can’t fall back asleep. Make sure to turn it off or at least keep it on silent.

• Give yourself the chance to calm down and empty the mind. Breathe in and breathe out, slowly and rhythmically. It may even help to count 1, 2, 3 as you breathe in and 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 as you breathe out, keeping the exhalation slower than the inhalation.

• Have you heard the “counting sheep” method of going to sleep? This is similar to counting your breaths, but parents have been known to tell their children to count sheep when they have a hard time falling asleep. The monotony of visualizing sheep and counting them has a slightly hypnotic effect that may lull you to sleep.

• Ventilation is as important as your breath. If the bedroom is stuffy, open a window. If there’s no window, try a fan. The KenkoAir Purifier® is also a big help, because it cleans the stale air.

• If you feel wired, don’t go to bed. Wait until you feel sleepy! A warm bath or shower may help you unwind.

• Make sure you get some kind of routine exercise every day. It doesn’t have to be strenuous, but getting the circulation going earlier in the day will help you be tired and ready to catch some zzzzzs.

• In bed but not quite ready to shut your eyes? Pick up a real book with pages, not an e-Book. Reading tires out the eyes and does not have the same effect as an electronic device that lights up—and paper does not give off undesired electromagnetic waves.

• To get your body to calm down and feel more connected to a natural state, try putting a KenkoGround® under your feet or neck—just make sure it’s touching your skin.

• Very importantly, make sure your bedding is comfortable. Nikken has a whole Kenko Sleep Pack, sized for different beds, that can help make your nightly slumber a restful experience to look forward to!

Nikken is launching a revolutionary pillow that takes Sleep Technology to a new level. We’ll explore this innovation next week. Meanwhile, check it out in the shopping cart: Kenko Naturest® Makura, Item 13122. It is in all the Makura Sleep Packs but once you try the new pillow, you’re going to want one or more for every bed in the house!