When's the last time you hung out by a campfire? Many of us in the ancestral health and Paleo community talk about all the ways that we are "primal" and reenacting our ancestors by eating certain foods and performing certain movements.
The real white elephant in the room is the rituals and daily practices that we've committed to for thousands of years.
We didn't necessarily do it for pleasure and fun, but for survival.
What rituals are we lacking that are essential to quality sleep?
We never see true darkness
The night time used to be a time for rest and repair, now people wait until 11pm to START their adventures. This is both backwards to our circadian and quantum clock, but detrimental to our hormone regulation and immune function.
If lights and sounds are present when the late-night growth hormone release process is supposed to begin, it won't happen. This is how late nights with or without alcohol can negatively influence health and more importantly for the athletic types, muscle growth and repair.
Also, when exposed to light, cortisol rises as it is evolutionarily programmed to do. When cortisol rises, your hormone cycle is sped up.
When you experience a full day and then stay up at night, you are essentially going through 2 days by using up 2 days worth of hormones and chemicals to mobilize you through the night.
Artificially creating 2 days worth of time in 1 cheats time. Nature doesn't like this. The day will come off the end of your life. Indirectly, staying up at night exposed to lights is shortening your life.
As mentioned in the book Lights Out by T.S. Wiley, "is going to bed at 9pm going to impact your social life? Yes, but so is cancer and death."
Go to bed early after dark, get up early, be productive and extend your life.
We don't sleep in a natural environment
Remember the times you went camping and couldn't stay awake past 8pm? This is how it's supposed to be!
Our neurotransmitters dopamine and serotonin are regulated and influenced by light exposure. These two neurotransmitters are responsible for personal drive, motivation, ambition and a positive mood.
Think of a dark winter morning in your warm cozy bed, who wan't to get up and get moving? Conversely, think of a bright sunny morning shining through your windows that motivates you to jump out of bed and start your day.
Our neurotransmitters, hormones and even blood sugar patterns are controlled by the natural processes shaped by millions of years of sunrises and sunsets. When we create or avoid our Earth's sunrises and sunsets, we are denying the experience and knowledge stored in our DNA that controls everything, including our master clock.
How many times have you said, "where has the time gone? why is time going so fast?".
These feelings are directly attributed to artificially altered circadian rhythms and light cycles.
Spending more time in nature is one of the best regulatory actions you can do for your health and sanity.
We think we don't need much sleep
We're the only mammals on the planet crazy (or smart) enough to create artificial sun-balls around the planet. As Dr. Hansler mentioned on the podcast, the entire planet's inhabitants are being negatively affected by our excess of light.
Turtles are having trouble figuring out when to lay their eggs and are very confused. Florida State has passed regulations about the amount of light allowed at the beaches to attempt to preserve the natural light-dark cycle and allow the turtles to reproduce.
Even though the TV shows, pop culture and movies convince people that midnight is the time when the "real parties" happen, they are dead wrong.
At some point, we would have spent time around the fire in ceremony, stayed up late to keep the fire burning and to protect others from animal invaders.
However, the spectrum of light from a fire is orange in color. The blue and white spectrums of light are what impair melatonin production.
This sets off a cascade of biochemical and hormonal responses, melatonin is just the first step in the process.
If you must stay awake at night, spend time near fire, orange colored bulbs, wear blue-blocking glasses and don't perform any strenuous activities (except for sex!), as this will create another spike in cortisol, our action hormone.
You need REM Rehab
Learn more about the program here.