Is Modern Living Hijacking Your Sleep?

Sleepless in the Digital Age

Is Modern Living Hijacking Your Sleep?

A picture of a man standing on a hill as the sun rises. Modern living hijacks our sleep.

Ancestral living isn’t just about diet and movement. There are other ways that modern living has hijacked the way we have lived for thousands of years. For millennia, people lived a hunter/gatherer, nomadic lifestyle. Although they had shelter, most of their time was spent outdoors. Their bare feet touched the ground. When the sun rose, they got up. When the sun set, it was time for bed. Their circadian rhythms were in sync with the sun and the earth’s geomagnetic field in ways that modern living doesn’t promote.

What Are Circadian Rhythms?

You’ve likely heard the term “circadian rhythm,” but what is it exactly? Your circadian rhythm is essentially your body’s internal clock. It’s based on a 24-hour cycle and is influenced by light and the earth’s geomagnetic field. This is why people experience jet lag when they quickly travel to new time zones. Their internal clock needs time to adjust to the new time zone and to sync with the local geomagnetic field.

When we experience insomnia or hypersomnia, it’s a sign that our circadian rhythm isn’t correctly aligned. This internal clock is supposed to cue us when it’s time to go to bed and it’s time to wake up.

Blue Light Is Hijacking Your Sleep

One of the biggest modern culprits of a dysfunctional circadian rhythm is blue light. Blue light is short wavelength light that’s emitted from the sun. There are multiple forms of blue light in this part of the spectrum and science has shown that light in these wavelengths affects our circadian rhythm. First thing in the morning and throughout the day, the presence of blue light is great because it suppresses the natural sleep hormone, melatonin more than the other wavelengths of light.

When the sun sets, the presence of blue light is gone and our bodies start to release melatonin. However, modern living exposes us to blue light 24/7. Before the mid to late-1800s, the only form of household lighting after dark was candlelight. In 1879, the lightbulb was invented and indoor lighting was incrementally adopted. Today, fluorescent lighting, LED, and screens from TVs, computers, and phones constantly inundate our eyes with blue light.

Image of a woman sitting on her couch lookng at her phone screen at night. Moden living hijacks sleep.

Not only is this light artificial but it also floods our eyes long after the sun sets—suppressing melatonin production. This leads to the following.

  • Insomnia

  • Irritability

  • Headaches

  • Retina damage

  • Increased risk of diseases

  • Hormone production disruption

Constant overexposure to blue light causes that feeling of “burning the candle at both ends.”

How Does the Earth’s Geomagnetic Field Impact Circadian Rhythms?

It may sound like some new age-hooey, but there’s scientific evidence that the earth’s geomagnetic field impacts an organism’s circadian rhythm. When we move from one point on the Earth’s surface to another, there are felt changes in the geomagnetic field. Modern living puts us at a disadvantage when it comes to staying in sync with Earth’s geomagnetic field.

Before the last few hundred years, most people didn’t wear shoes with rubber soles. Modern shoes have been changing our feet and inhibiting proper grounding. By touching the earth with our bare feet, our bodies are able to be in step with the local geomagnetic field. The geomagnetic field has numerous implications for human health and sleep.

Ways to Synchronize Your Circadian Rhythm

How do we synchronize our circadian rhythms in modern times? Here are a few ways:

  • Watching the sunrise and grounding first thing in the morning

  • Wearing blue light glasses in the evenings

  • Maintaining a consistent sleep schedule

  • Avoid stimulating substances like caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine a few hours before bedtime

Aside from diet and movement, it’s important to incorporate some of these other ancestral advantages into our modern lifestyles. We’ve only been living like this for the last 150 years. Our bodies have yet to adapt to this type of lifestyle and are still subject to the old ways.

Now, if you’re like me, you probably lead a hectic lifestyle. You own a business or have a demanding career, young kids, and endless responsibilities. You may be thinking, “This is all great in a perfect world, but how am I supposed to implement these changes practically?”

There’s a really good quote from former Navy Seal officer, Jocko Willink, that I often remind myself. Namely, “Excuses are lies.” The reality is, you CAN implement these practices in your hectic life. And, the kicker is that these practices will actually make your life easier. You can’t afford NOT to implement these habits. If I can do them, I promise you that you can too!