Actually, you might just be consistent with your sleeping habits. The truth is, your body itself is a freaking legend.
Did you know that your body has its own internal clock that works hard to wake you up when you need to be woken?
In the centre of your brain, there’s a clump of nerves, known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus, that oversees your body’s internal clock: the circadian rhythm. This random clump of nerves may sound simplistic but let me assure you that they regulate more than you might think, like how awake you feel, your blood pressure, your body temperature and your sense of time. Your suprachiasmatic nucleus coordinates with your internal clock to turn your body into a freaking legend of a machine.
As it turns out, our bodies love predictability and in order for this machine of ours to be as efficient as possible, there needs to be some sort of a pattern to follow.
This means that our bodies like being able to predict when we will go to bed and when we will wake up, for example. Your body can remember your physical behaviours like a memory – and that’s where things get sciencey.
Allow me to introduce PER – a protein responsible for the regulation of your body’s sleep-wake cycle. PER levels fluctuate throughout the day, peaking in the evening and plummeting at night. As PER levels drop, so does your blood pressure and heart rate. From there, thoughts become foggier and naturally you become sleepier.
The coolest thing is that when you consistently practise a diligent sleep pattern, your body learns from that behaviour to increase your PER levels in time for your alarm. About an hour or so before you plan to wake up, your PER levels rise, along with body temperature and blood pressure, all in preparation for the stress of waking up. This shift in your body’s hormones causes your sleep to gradually become lighter and lighter.
This process is the reason why you are able to wake up before your alarm does, because your body hates superficial alarms. They are stressful and unsettling. In order to avoid this stress, your body adapts (like the legend it is) by increasing your PER and hormone levels earlier in the night. This change allows your body to get a head start on the waking process so it doesn’t leave you feeling groggy and grumpy.
What’s insane is that your body’s internal clock can be so precise that your eyelids might open just minutes or even seconds before your alarm is set to go off. Your body is so amazing there’s even evidence to suggest that you can will yourself to wake up on time, too.
If you’re someone who doesn’t ever wake up before their alarm goes off, don’t panic!
It probably just means that you either aren’t getting enough sleep, or you aren’t on a consistent sleep schedule. Even waking up at a different time on the weekends can throw your internal clock out of whack, but at least now you know how to get the most out of your internal clock!