If You're Going To Make One Change In 2019, Make It This
The new year has arrived, and that means many of us are wondering what we can do in 2019 to better support our health. Should we sign up for that yoga studio membership? Start establishing a healthy morning routine? Try Whole30 or a doctor-approved detox program? There are countless ways to improve our health and, therefore, endless options to choose from.
But what if I told you that there was one change that would be, for lack of a better word, a game-changer? It's incredibly simple and also difficult as hell to implement—but some of our experts say it might just transform your health.
It's going to bed at 10 p.m.
Why you should be going to bed at a more "natural" hour.
Before you think of a thousand reasons why you shouldn't make this change, hear me out. The case for an early bedtime is a strong one. For starters, it's more "natural" to do it this way. According to Ellen Vora, M.D., a holistic psychiatrist and mindbodygreen Collective member, "Start to notice that your body experiences a wave of feeling tired approximately three hours after sunset. Shockingly, this is actually the appropriate bedtime, not later. Start to listen for your body's tired signs around 10 or 10:30 p.m., and take that as a cue to brush your teeth and crawl into your cozy bed."
So what will this do for your health? According to Dr. Vora, who is frequently suggesting that her patients get to bed early in honor of their mental health, "This will prevent your body from getting 'overtired,' when you release the stress hormone cortisol and hit a second wind of energy. When you try to push against cortisol to fall asleep, you toss and turn and your mind races. No fun. Prevent this by swooping yourself to bed at the sweet spot of tiredness, right around 10 p.m."
You've probably heard of the circadian rhythm, but did you know it's actually ruled by the hormones cortisol and melatonin? It's true. Cortisol peaks in the morning to get you up and out of bed, and then it's supposed to fall in the evening as melatonin rises. Supporting this natural rhythm is critical to getting high-quality sleep. In fact, honoring your circadian rhythms—and your daily fluctuations in the hormones cortisol and melatonin—is one of our 2019 Wellness Trends to Watch at mindbodygreen.
How an earlier bedtime will transform your mood, energy levels, and metabolism.
In case you aren't quite sold on the 10 p.m. bedtime yet, it's important to know that making this change is about way more than just a healthy mood or high-quality sleep; it’s about your stress levels, your hormone balance, your weight, and even areas of your health you never thought were connected to your sleep cycle. According to Satchin Panda, Ph.D., author of The Circadian Code: Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Transform Your Health From Morning to Midnight and a leader in the emerging science of the circadian rhythm, when you aren't living a lifestyle that supports your biological clock, "it can contribute to weight gain, diabetes, high blood pressure, and many other diseases." In other words: Honoring this rhythm could transform your health this year.
One of the best aspects of the 10 p.m. bedtime is how it connects you with nature and can make your body feel more grounded and at ease. "Many of my patients' insomnia, anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and ADHD improve significantly with this earlier bedtime. The reasoning is that the human body functions best when it's in sync with the sun and the moon," says Dr. Vora.
This change no doubt requires some schedule readjusting, and it's easier said than done. But knowing all the benefits, it's definitely worth a try.