Summer is a wonderful time! No school. Longer days. Extra sunshine. And summer vacations! While there is so much to look forward to during the season, it also disrupts our normal routines. This can be great for those who love to be spontaneous, but it can cause a lot of extra stress for the rest of us who need routine to stay sane!
Our bodies are made to function on a normal schedule. In fact, there is tons of research out there explaining how our body is actually on a biological clock that allows different systems in our body to function on a specific schedule. Included in that clock is the circadian rhythm. It is a clock that all living things follow including humans, animals, and even plants.
This article from The Sleep Foundation explains that circadian rhythms are connected to a master clock found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) that controls the timing of different body functions. It says:
“The SCN is highly sensitive to light, which serves as a critical external cue that influences the signals sent by the SCN to coordinate internal clocks in the body. For this reason, circadian rhythms are closely connected to day and night. While other cues, like exercise, social activity, and temperature, can affect the master clock, light is the most powerful influence on circadian rhythms.”
On a normal day, it’s important to work with your body’s master clock to ensure you’re getting enough sleep because sleep helps regulate all of your body systems. It’s also important to work with what your body needs to regulate emotional and mental health. In the summer, it’s even MORE important to take time to give our bodies some sense of normalcy.
While there is definitely a feeling of freedom when our daily schedules are open, and there is actually a lot to gain from clearing up our busy schedules, it can also disrupt our daily health. If you’re on a semi-regular sleep schedule and your body knows when to wake up and start to quiet down for the night, then going on vacations, staying up late, sleeping in, and not engaging in your normal exercise and social routines can really affect you.
Now back to the summer fun. We definitely want you to go on the trips and have extra time with your family! We want you to take advantage of the extra sunlight (which is also part of our body’s natural rhythm so it’s normal to stay up later during summer!). But, we also want you to make sure you’re not throwing your whole body off during this great time. If you feel good, you’re going to enjoy all the fun things even more!
Here are some ways to incorporate routine into your schedule this summer.