I have been listening to a great deal of neuroscience podcasts. One of them is hosted by Dr. Andrew Huberman. He is a neuroscientist and professor at Stanford University.
Dr. Huberman created a protocol to set your circadian rhythm, another term for body rhythm. I may have mentioned the importance of the circadian rhythm for sleep in past blogs. Sunlight is the most important factor in regulating our internal circadian rhythm. Every organ and tissue in the body has a “peripheral clock” that tells our cells when to start certain chemical reactions that are necessary for survival. The central clock, Suprachiasmatic Nucleus, relays this information to the peripheral clocks. The central clock is connected to our eyes by nerve cells. Many factors can affect the central clock, of which light is the most powerful.
Dr. Huberman recommends going outside within one hour of waking for 2 to 10 minutes. This is enough light to reset the central clock. He strongly warned against looking directly at the sun, which can damage the eye. To lock in the central clock, he recommended going outside again for 2-10 minutes within an hour of sunset. In another episode, he reminded people to turn down the lights in the evening. He wanted the lights as low as possible without jeopardizing safety. Within three days, sleep, mood, hormone levels, metabolism, pain threshold and memory should improve with the regulation of your circadian rhythm. To hear him explain his protocol, please click this link and watch from minute 34-45.
A protocol does not have as rigorous scientific evidence as a placebo-double blind study. However, I do not think that any scientist would create this study. Studies are expensive and time-consuming. My wife and I tried this protocol and it is working for us!! We take two short walks each day to get sunlight and we feel better. We get outside even on cloudy days because there is still enough light to have an effect. Inside light is not a bright as outside light and a much longer exposure is required. So, you must get outdoors to positively change the circadian rhythm.