Friday, August 7, 2009

In search of Circadian Rhythm

I've always had trouble with sleep. As young as 5 years old, when my parents divorced, I had terrifying nightmares that disrupted my rest. When I was 12, I even saw a doctor because my insomnia was so bad. I've had good years and bad years, and last year was a bad year.

I've tried a range of remedies. Some have helped. A chiropractor suggested a concussion I had at 11 (from a head-first bike accident) may have disrupted my hypothalamus. The treatment she gave me did make a notable difference, but it didn't erase the problem. I have a history also of slight hypothyroidism (resulting in a slow metabolism). My insomnia seems to be related to hormonal cycles. Melatonin sometimes helps. Exercise sometimes helps. But I still have nights where I can only sleep half the night.

Earlier this week, I read a blog post intended for travelers changing time zones. A Harvard researcher discovered that in addition to light, food intake affects the body's rhythms as well. Clifford Saper suggests that fasting for 16 hours can reset the sleep/wake cycle. I'm trying it out, and it does seem to make a difference. I haven't been falling asleep earlier, but I have been waking up clear-headed and alert when I am usually sluggish and sleepy. I've gone 2 nights so far. We'll see if it actually shifts my sleep/wake cycle enough to fall asleep earlier.

(The nifty biological clock illustration is by YassineMrabet, posted on Wikimedia Commons)

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Light Summer Salad

Recently, I've been putting some intention towards really sensing and caring for my physical well being. After all, our bodies are, in a sense, our most consistent "home" in this life.

Regular exercise, focused breathing, and good food are my main body-care activities right now. I've been considering a "cleanse"; a semi-fast to purify the body. I haven't taken that plunge yet, but today I did try a recipe from Adina Niemerow's book Super Cleanse, with some adaptations.

Watermelon Salad with Zippy Lime Dressing
(my version, adapted from Adina Niemerow)
- watermelon
- julienned arugula & pea shoots
- chopped toasted pistachios
tossed with:
- flax oil
- lime juice
- fresh cilantro
- good quality chili powder
- sea salt

Yummy, light summer eating!
This would make a great lunch with a light protein, maybe a broiled white fish or roasted chicken.