Chasing the Sun is packed full of fascinating facts about sunlight and how it profoundly affects our physical and mental health. With advice and tips on how to make the most of daylight – even in January, when our days are so short – Chasing the Sun is an essential book to have by your side year-round.

Linda Geddes shares her 10 steps to circadian harmony to put you on the path to better sleep and greater alertness in the day.

Chasing teh Sun

1.       Breakfast like a king, feast like a prince, dine like a pauper

One study found that dieters who consumed the bulk of their calories at breakfast lost 2.5 times more weight than those consuming them at dinner – even though they were eating the same number of calories overall.

2.       Walk or cycle to work

Exposure to bright light during the morning improves the quality of your sleep, makes you more of an early-bird, and reduces symptoms of depression. Bright light also boosts alertness.

3.       Late morning is the best time for logical reasoning

Many of our mental processes are under the control of the circadian clock, and logical reasoning tends to peak between 10am and midday. 

4.       Take a walk around the block at lunchtime

Bright light boosts mental alertness independently of the circadian clock. However, since there is a natural dip in our alertness during the early afternoon, exposure to bright or blue-enriched light at lunchtime can help to counter this.

5.       If you want to achieve a personal sporting best, do it in late afternoon to early evening

This is when body temperature peaks, and with it grip strength, cardiovascular efficiency, and muscle strength.

6.       Avoid snacking in the evening and late at night

Late eating causes the body clocks in some of our organs to become desynchronized, meaning they work less efficiently.  Our bodies are also more resistant to the effects of insulin at night, so sugar stays in the blood for longer, which can damage health.

7.       For good sleep, keep things dim

Bright and blue-enriched light boosts alertness, suppresses production of the night-time hormone melatonin, and delays the body clock, making it harder to sleep. Switch off overhead lights at least two hours before bed, or consider dimmable, colour-changing bulbs.

8.       For electronic gadgets, think red

If you must check your phone or laptop before bed, make sure it is switched to night-mode, or install an app which filters out blue light and dims the screen.

9.       Turn down your bedroom thermostat

Body temperature naturally falls at night, and this is necessary to initiate sleep. If your bedroom is too hot, your body will struggle to shed heat and you may find it harder to sleep. 16-18 degrees C is ideal.

10.   Pull the black-out curtains

Light pollution from streetlights can impact the quality of your sleep – as can early sunrises in summer. If you feel groggy in the mornings, consider a dawn-simulation alarm clock. 

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