What does the circadian rhythm have to do with sleep routine, stress and heart health and why it is so high on the global health radar this decade?
Western Science has been studying the laws of nature for hundreds of years, more recently a group of the Nobel prize winning researchers found that the circadian rhythm within our bodies is synchronized with the 24-hour rotation of the planet. Our bodies are governed by this inner clock within our DNA so when we override this natural rhythm, it can and does have a cascading effect on our health making it a slower process of recovering from dis-eases. Studies have shown an increase in the risk of heart attacks and stroke 2 weeks after the changeover of day light savings, high-lighting just how attuned we are to the solar planets in our hemisphere.
A holistic approach to your Sleep
Your body and mind are a sophisticated inseparable system and has long been viewed as a complete holistic system used in Traditional Chinese medicine as a part of diagnosis for dis-ease. The observation of mother nature and methods of living within the laws of nature, being in harmony with the seasons and cycles that govern our planet and its solar system, has been a part of Chinese Medicine theory for over 2000 years. Bringing the body and mind back into harmony using Acupuncture and herbal medicine, massage and qi gong exercise has shown great results for helping manage stress, balancing hormones and improving sleep.
The hustle and bustle of modern lifestyles has caused us to shift away from living in rhythm with the earth. Natural day and night light that the brain feeds off is integral in keeping a check and balance of all our Autonomic Nervous Systems (ANS). ANS is the part of the nervous system responsible for control of the bodily functions not consciously directed, such as breathing, the heartbeat, and digestive processes. Most of us take this for granted until something goes wrong. We don’t recognise this innate connection with mother nature. We can survive but as humans we have options and there are some laws that need to be adhered to as they are what is best for our health and wellbeing.
The Master Clock Controller
Our circadian rhythm is one important system as it is the master clock controller of the nerve cells in the brain’s hypothalamus. It is affected by the amount of light received by the optic nerve in our eyes. You may not think it is important, but it affects all our autonomic nervous system from your heartbeat to your fertility and almost every function in your body is affected by the quality of sleep you have.
Science has stated that we can die from sleep deprivation, as easily as we can without food. Researchers are continually adding data to the growing body of knowledge regarding the inner workings of the body and brain. Chinese Medicine theory already has a well-documented system explaining the flow of energy over a 24-hour period through the body’s organ network.
Isolation Tank Research on your Body Clock
Dr John Lily, who developed the first isolation tank, also known as R.E.S.T (Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique), had a great interest in what happened to the brain when devoid of light, sound and all external stimuli. It is well documented that Floatation therapy can have a positive effect in helping the body reset its internal body clock. This helps the hypothalamus within the brain rebalance and return homeostasis to our autonomic nervous system, thus bringing us back into flow and harmony.
Dr. Michael Breus Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist and a world renown sleep specialist who has written about the benefits of floatation therapy for improving sleep and mental health. See – https://thesleepdoctor.com/2019/05/28/the-benefits-of-floating-for-sleep-and-mental-health/, (included in the article is a reference to a number of the research papers focused on sleep from 1989 to 2017).
R.E.S.T. for better internal connection
Floatation therapy can greatly improve the quality of sleep, especially for those who work as shift workers or in different time zones. Floating is a great way to reset. Time spent in a float tank can and does have a multi facet effect on the body and brain, improving how our systems communicate is a key benefit that happens effortlessly and requires minimal input from the individual.
It is not just one part of floatation that can take all the credit but a synergetic effect that happens while one is in a floatation tank. It is a combination of many things: the total darkness, the reduction in noise, the skin temperature water that reduces the sense of touch, even the concentration of magnesium, the sense of weightlessness, that all adds to the multiple benefits of floating.
90% of the brain’s computation is used for spatial awareness, both in the waken state and while sleeping. So, when you are effortlessly floating, the brain really does get to experience a profound sense of relaxation and potentially the deepest regenerative rest.
Total control in A Float Tank
Your breath and your heartbeat are 2 of the things you hear the most in the silence of the float tank. Strangely enough, once you become comfortable floating, these 2 systems become something you realise you have some control over, especially your breath. It may sound strange, but we almost need to learn how to breathe. Different breathing techniques are gaining a greater presence along with various meditation styles because we are realising the connection to stress and anxiety contribute to shallow breathing and a rapid heart rate both of which affect our ability to get deep restful sleep. Please see our link to our blog on different breathing techniques.
When you can focus on your breath, you can change its rhythm, deepening and slowing your inhalation and exhalation which has a calming effect on your heart rate and the level of stress and anxiety you may be feeling, by helping you relax and allowing you to fall asleep, both of which become a part of what happens with the practice of floating.
Like any new activity, routine is the key. Floating once is nice but it usually takes 3 sessions to fully let go. 9 -12 floats are what is recommend by the industry and backed up by recent research done by Dr Jerry Walker to hit the BLISS point.
Water Temple Floatation & Holistic Health offers guided meditations specifically created for the floatation therapy that can be played whilst in the tank, helping you focus on the breath and relaxation.