Harness the Power of the Connector Brain
DID YOU KNOW? When we are awake, the brain generates enough energy to power a light bulb.
Today, I was curious when I heard more than one person say, “I am so tired!” There is no doubt that the emotional toil of uncertainty and the bombardment of epidemic news is fatiguing. At the same time, I heard comments such as “I can fall asleep, but I don’t stay asleep. Something wakes me in the middle of the night and I can’t get back to sleep.” Or, “I am too awake to sleep and too exhausted to get up.” I know from a brain-health perspective that “I am so tired!” is the brain’s cry for oxygen. I wonder if underneath the other statements, the brain is signaling for a reset because its circadian rhythm or its internal clock is out-of-balance. If you have ever experienced jet lag, then your internal clock is ticking, attempting to readjust your 24-hour awake/asleep cycles. Sometimes it takes 1 day-2 weeks to reset your clock, depending on the length of your travel.
The circadian rhythm or internal clock is the brain’s way of regulating this awake/asleep cycle. It is a biological clock activated by the presence or absence of light in the eyes. When the eyes receives sunlight, electric light or blue light, the brain signals the pineal gland to inhibit melatonin and keep you awake. When the eyes are deprived of light, the brain signals the pineal gland to release melatonin and make you tired. Each person has a 24-hour natural ebb and flow of energy throughout the day and night. Some people are night owls. Others are morning-owls. What are you?
Tiredness, fatigue and insomnia are not the only signs that your internal clock may be out-of-whack. Heart rate fluctuations, cell metabolism, and immune/inflammatory responses are affected as well. Often, it is difficult to focus or concentrate when your biological clock needs resetting. Have you ever felt the jolt of your heart beating faster when you are tired and the pressure of work deadlines or parenting demand you keep going? Have you ever said, “I can’t seem to lose weight no matter what I do?” Have you ever experience the on-set of a cold and it didn’t materialize in your body? If so, your internal clock is ticking!
This epidemic time of super-imposed, recommended restrictions is an opportunity to discover your natural circadian rhythm. Moving from a fast-paced life of work or school to a slower paced life at home may be disorienting. Schedules and routines are disrupted. Now is the time to become familiar with the rhythm your internal clock, to learn its ebb and flow and to live life fully by it. If you have ever gone on a vacation, then you know what it is like to wake, sleep, eat and do as you want, according to your natural circadian rhythm.
The Connector Brain links us to our self, to others, to our Creator and to Creation.
ABC Tool #5: The Clock is Ticking!
A – Aware: Pay attention to your internal clock!
1. Ask yourself “To whom or what are you connected?” Connect to yourself!
2. Track your energy as it ebbs and flows over the next 24 hours. Copy the graph on a piece of paper to track your circadian rhythm. Make a dot above the timeline when you are awake, alert or active; Make a dot below the timeline when you are asleep, tired or fatigued. Connect the dots to discover the wave of your 24-hour circadian rhythm. For a better understanding, do this exercise each 24-hour cycle for a week. Follow your circadian rhythm and ride its wave throughout the day. When it is up, get things done…complete a task. When it is down, put your feet up…take a break. Flow with your natural rhythm based on your biological ticking clock.
B – Break
1. Focus on your breathing pattern.
2. Practice stop/drop/roll breathing when your brain is on fire and your muscles are tight.
a. Say to yourself: Stop!
b. Exhale: Drop your breath into your diaphragm. Blow it out like a whale emerging from the depths of the ocean. Release your breath!
c. Inhale: Roll into now. Use your movement patterns to balance your brain. Lie down on a flat surface with your knees bent and your feet flat on the ground, arms resting comfortably at your sides. Imagine a clock directly behind your back. It is a circle with numbers from 1 to 12. The 12 o’clock position is at your waist and the 6 o’clock position is at your tailbone. Now, exhale, dropping your breath to the 6 o’clock position. Release … Let go. Inhale, rolling your breath to the 12 o’clock position. Focus your breath. Exhale and inhale, moving your breath between these two time zones in a straight line. Make the movement slow and invisible. Only you can see the clock and feel its movement. Repeat this pattern 7 times.
Note: Experiment with other patterns as your internal clock ticks. Explore by moving around the clock. Step 1: Exhale, following the hands ticking on the right side of the clock from 126.96.36.199.4.5.6. Inhale, returning to 12. Repeat this pattern 3 times. Step 2: exhaling, follow the hands ticking on the left side of the clock from 188.8.131.52.8.7.6. Inhale, returning to 12. Repeat this pattern 3 times. Step 3: Breathe through the clock, completing the circle going right from 184.108.40.206 … 220.127.116.11. Reverse and breathe through the clock, competing the circle from 18.104.22.168 … 22.214.171.124. Keep the movement effortless.
C – Connect:
1. Keep rhythm to your internal clock. Find routines and schedules that work for you.
a. If your energy is ebbing and you feel tired, take a power nap or go to sleep no matter the time of day. Research shows that 10-20 minutes of napping during the day does not disturb sleep at night. In fact, it keeps your circadian rhythm it in balance. “Checking out” or staring out of a window may be a form of napping with your eyes open. Close your eyes to minimize light and flow with the wave of your shut-down cycle.
b. If your energy is ebbing and you feel tired, move your body. Go for a walk. Above all do not stuff yourself with food. Research shows that when your circadian rhythm is powering down eating increases body mass and leads to weight gain.
c. If your energy is rising and you feel alert, complete one thing on your to-do list. When the brain is focused on one task, it finds comfort and experiences a sense of accomplishment. Remember to include play and relaxation activities on your to-do list.
2. Reset your internal clock. Go on vacation mode.
a. Follow the light. During the day, let your eyes receive the sunlight or reflective light to brighten and awaken your brain. During the night, turn off electric lights and blue lights, including TVs, computers and smart phones to darken and rest your brain.
b. Act according to your internal ticking clock. Sleep in or get up early. Go on an adventure: see a new sight … take a virtual tour of a museum or national park. Participate in a new activity … color a picture or play a game. Explore a new topic … open a TedTalk or access a u-tube video on the topic of your curiosity.
Harness the power of your Connector Brain!
May the Internal Clock of Life flow through you!