I’ve now added coffee back into my AIP diet, but I am not drinking it often. It’s lovely not to be dependent on caffeine to get my day started. What is not so great is dragging around half awake for a good two hours after I get up.
At first, I just went to tea and was drinking a couple of cups to get going. But the problem is that both tea and coffee interfere with my iron supplement. Plus, while I’m not against tea or coffee, I hesitate to think it’s a good sign that you need either to get going in the morning.
Then I found a “trick” that helped me feel not only awake as soon as I got up in the morning, but also feel sleepy at night too! (I struggle with being a night owl and that makes my mornings even harder.) This “trick” was, in fact, helping me regulate my natural circadian rhythm. Among other things, your circadian rhythm is what regulates when you wake up naturally in the morning, and when you feel sleepy at night. It’s important for many aspects of our health, and it is not fun when it’s messed up (believe me, I know).
So what is the secret that is helping me overcome my morning coffee, and my night owl habits?
Have you ever noticed that when you are camping, you wake up early feeling refreshed and wide awake (that is, unless other nearby campers were having a rowdy night)? I know that I have. I couldn’t understand why considering I had gotten the same amount of sleep as normal (or really, less than normal), but I would wake up so easily and refreshed each morning. Usually, I drag myself around the house for a good hour or two trying to wake up.
We Don’t see the Sun Enough
It turns out that my body was being affected by the natural setting and rising of the sun. We need light – at the right wavelengths and at the right times. When I am inside all night (and much of the day), my body doesn’t get those signals as they should. So I started trying to adopt some healthy habits – like sitting on my front porch in the morning to get some light, and turning down the lights at night. Those were helpful but limited. First, I live in Oregon, and it is cloudy a LOT. Secondly, I have young children, and it is very hard to find even five minutes to sit on the front porch. Then we moved to an apartment with no porch. All in all, it was too hit and miss to be very effective.
Science on “Blue Light”
But science is showing how important light is to regulate our sleep and wake cycle. For example, did you know that “blue light” (emitted from most of our light bulbs, our computer screens, smartphones, and TVs) can aggressively suppress our melatonin if we get too much of it late at night? (source).
This doesn’t mean that blue light is bad. Far from it. In fact, we need blue light! Just at the right time of the day. In an interesting article at National Geographic, entitled, “How Light Wakes up the Brain” one of the Belgium researchers commented on how he uses blue light therapy in the morning because of our need for it (especially if we aren’t out in the sunshine in the morning).
He’s on to something. It makes a huge difference – especially if you are like me, and feel “awake” at night, and sleepy in the morning. And you know what? As a mother of three children, it’s hard on all of us when I can’t “wake up” in the morning for a good two hours and then feel wired for hours at night when everyone else has gone to bed. Good sleep is important for health, so anything that helps my body get better sleep is well worth the trouble.
Once I started using light therapy, I also noticed that it seemed to lift my spirits– I realized that after a long gloomy weather period, that using blue light therapy could be helping with seasonal affective disorder (or perhaps it was just an extra benefit from feeling more awake!). Regardless, using blue light to help with seasonal affective disorder is a common treatment (talk to your doctor about this option, if you suffer from SAD!).
University Developed Light Therapy Glasses
The light therapy method I have been using is Re-Timer.. These glasses give you gentle green-blue light which is both safe and effective for re-setting the circadian rhythm. It is a university developed product for helping correct sleep cycles, and has eleven patents, and five clinical trials showing its effectiveness. Yup. There is a reason it helped me go coffee-less and get better sleep! (It’s also UV-free, for eye protection). I wore it for 30 minutes as soon as I woke up, and that’s all I had to do! (Read their free eBook which helps you learn how to use it correctly for your situation!)
- Very easy to use. All you need to do is put them on, and you are good to go.
- It’s more convenient than other light therapy options. You can wear while walking around, eating breakfast and getting the kids ready – so it’s easy to fit into your routine
- Research based
- UV-free and tested for safety
- Helps regulate sleep without medication
- Helps regulate sleep without taking hormonal help (melatonin)
- Can also be used to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder
- Is often used for those on a swing shift
- Helps recovery from jet lag
- Helps you switch your routine to get up earlier in the morning, if desired.
- They are recommended by sleep doctors
- If a couple both want to use them, you may need two if you wake up at the same time.
- They aren’t the cheapest option (I’ve got a coupon code at end of the article for you though)
- I wouldn’t let kids get their hands on these, as they are somewhat fragile (I didn’t put them to the “kid test” as I didn’t want to know how easy they were to break!).
I wish more people knew about this effective tool. I know that I am not the only one that suffers from having a hard time going to sleep at night, and a hard time waking up in the morning. Sleep issues can be so devastating to your health (including your mental health!). I’m not claiming that this tool is the right answer for everyone, but I think it’s one to consider. (If you have any health issues, of course, talking to your doctor is always a good idea before trying anything new, as they may have helpful guidelines for you in introducing light therapy.)
Re-timer Coupon Code
I worked with Re-Timer. to give you a limited-time coupon code. Use coupon “nourish30” at checkout to receive $30 off Re-Timer. This coupon is effective through May 31st.
And thanks to Re-Timer for both sponsoring this post, and being willing to let me try Re-Timer out. I love partnering with companies that I truly believe in, and Re-Timer is one of them.