The human body clock is slightly longer than 24 hours.
How do we know this?
In the 1930s, we learned of this from a long-term study of sleep that the grandfathers of sleep research—Drs. Eugene Aserinsky and Nathaniel Kleitman from the University of Chicago—conducted in Mammoth Cave, Kentucky.
Since then, this study has been replicated in labs across the world.
Why Is The Human Body Clock Longer Than 24 Hours?
One advantage of a slightly slower body clock (relative to the Earth’s rotation) is that it gives us the flexibility to adjust our sleep schedules in a new environment.
This is especially important during times like the biannual daylight saving time change.
This is the reason why it is easier for most people to travel westward than eastward and why we find it easier to stay up late rather than to go to bed early.
How Can You Optimize Your Body Clock?
Optimizing your body clock will allow you to get deeper sleep at night and more energized days. Below are some tips for how to optimize your body clock.
1. Keep a Consistent Schedule.
The body clocks are “apprentices” to the “master” clock of the brain. The more stable our circadian rhythm is, the more stable our sleep is. A stable circadian rhythm helps us fall asleep easily, stay asleep, and wake up with little grogginess.
2. Expose Yourself to Morning Sunlight (with no shades).
Light is the most potent means for our brain and body clocks to “WAKE UP!” Light in the morning sends a very strong signal to the brain that we should be awake and helps to minimize afternoon slumps.
3. Eat Clean, Avoid Sugar.
There is growing evidence to show that high-fat, high-sugar foods interfere with the circadian rhythms in the brain and body. It happens in mice and it happens in humans.
If you must have a sugar fix, make sure to only eat sugar during the day when your body can afford a rise in blood glucose. Eating sugar at night causes blood glucose to rise too quickly, preventing us from getting our deepest sleep.
Do you have any sleep tips you follow? Leave them in the comments below!