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How Sleep Works - Part 2

Updated: Jun 3, 2021

The Biological Clock

There is a clock in your brain that keeps track of when it's time to go to sleep and when it's time to wake up. It's called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN). 

The two hands informing this clock are sunlight and darkness. Sunlight in the morning tells the brain to be awake and sets the clock's timer for sleep 16 hours or so later, or a few hours after darkness, whichever comes first. 

I like to compare the SCN's role in calling for sleep to your role in calling for an Uber.

Just when exactly you call for your Uber, of course, depends on when you want to arrive to your destination and how far away the closest driver is. 

The way the SCN calls for its Sleep Uber is by getting blue light from sunlight through the eyes.

The average wait time for a Sleep Uber though is around 16 hours, so for the SCN and sleep to be on time, the SCN needs blue light from the sun around 16 hours in advance. 

Then, once the SCN is picked up, a comfortable Sleep Uber takes it on a 7-9 hour roundtrip, comprised of 2 legs, the to and from. 

As you can see by doing the math, waiting around 16 hours for a its Sleep Uber followed by a 7-9 hour roundtrip will leave the SCN right where it started roughly 24 hours earlier.

The only thing that could throw off this cycle is if the Sleep Uber was late. 

All the SCN has to do to ensure its Sleep Uber is on time is not "cancel the trip." This is done by getting a certain amount of sunlight and blocking blue light after the sun goes down. 

If this doesn't happen, for instance if the SCN was stuck inside all day or exposed to a lot of blue light after dark, the Sleep Uber in essence will be "cancelled" and a new one will need to be called. One that is standing by but further away.

Now, here's one thing to keep in mind. Once a Sleep Uber arrives, they only have enough fuel to drive for about 7-9 hours. The amount of driving hours is personal to each passenger's clock.

So, let's say a Sleep Uber arrives 2 hours late for an 8 hour roundtrip, the SCN is presented with 2 big challenges. 

Challenge #1

If the Sleep Uber honors the 8 hour trip, the SCN will be dropped off about 2 hours past it's house. At first this isn't a problem. But to recalibrate, the SCN will now need to be picked up by a Sleep Uber in 14 hours, but now the closest Sleep Uber is 16 hours away.

Challenge #2

In order to get back home 24 hours later, the SCN will need to jump out of its Sleep Uber 2 hours early, before the drive was complete and all the benefits of the drive were achieved.

Now, the SCN will either return home sleep deprived or will have to established a new home base, where it isn't as comfortable or efficient. 

Bringing this back to you, to get your sleep on track, you need to start by setting the timer on your sleep clock by getting sunlight through your eyes when you wake up - preferably as close to sunrise as possible - and by avoiding as much blue light as possible.

Getting your clock in sync always starts with light, the clock must be set that way first. You cannot use darkness to make sleep alive faster. Darkness has to be accompanied by a certain passage of time from when you first see light.

Blue light from electronics is the fastest way to cancel your Sleep Uber. This mostly happens inadvertently. Most people, I assume, don't realize how this affects their sleep or they would block that light. This is why it's so important to block blue light using Dormi's Glasses. 

But other lifestyle implications like proper air, food, water and movement effect your 24 hour cycle of sleep and wakefulness.

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