Resetting Your Clock: Johanna Altman's Guide to Optimal Circadian Health

Jun 14


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Resetting Your Clock: Johanna Altman's Guide to Optimal Circadian Health" explains how our internal biological clock, or circadian rhythm, affects our sleep, health, and daily routines. Johanna offers simple tips like spending more time outdoors, arranging workspaces to get daylight, dimming lights in the evening, and using apps to reduce bl


In our fast-paced world,Resetting Your Clock: Johanna Altman's Guide to Optimal Circadian Health Articles the concept of time governs much of our daily routine, yet one crucial aspect frequently overlooked is our internal biological clock or circadian rhythm. This internal timer plays a vital role in dictating our sleep patterns, hormone release, eating habits, and overall health. 

Johanna Altman, a wellness enthusiast and advocate for holistic health practices, shares insights on how properly managing light exposure can significantly enhance circadian health and, by extension, improve overall well being.

Understanding Circadian Rhythms

Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle, responding primarily to light and darkness in an organism's environment. They are found in most living things, including animals, plants, and microbes. The study of circadian rhythms is called chronobiology.

The Role of Light

Light is the most potent cue influencing circadian rhythms, helping to synchronize the internal clock to the environment's 24-hour light/dark cycle. Natural sunlight and artificial indoor lighting impact these rhythms, signaling when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep.

The Impact of Circadian Misalignment

Disruption to the circadian rhythm can lead to various health issues, including sleep disorders, obesity, diabetes, depression, bipolar disorder, and seasonal affective disorder. Johanna Altman emphasizes that understanding and managing our light exposure is key to preventing such disruptions and maintaining good health.

Harnessing the Power of Light

Sunlight: The Best Circadian Regulator

Exposure to natural sunlight during the day is crucial in keeping the circadian rhythm healthy. Johanna recommends starting the day with a morning walk or simply sitting by a sunny window. This exposure helps halt the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, making us alert and ready to start the day.

Artificial Lighting: Friend and Foe

While natural light is beneficial, artificial lighting can be a double-edged sword. During the day, bright artificial light can help maintain alertness and focus, mimicking the benefits of natural sunlight. However, excessive exposure to artificial blue light from screens and LED lights in the evening can disrupt the body's natural preparation for sleep by inhibiting melatonin production.

Blue Light and Sleep

The blue wavelengths produced by our electronic screens are beneficial during the day because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood, but they are the most disruptive at night. To mitigate their impact, Johanna uses apps that filter the blue/green wavelength at night, or she wears glasses that block blue light in the evening.

Practical Tips for Optimal Light Management

Johanna Altman shares several strategies to harness the power of light effectively to support your circadian rhythm:

Maximize Daylight Exposure

  • Get outside: Aim for at least 30 to 60 minutes of outdoor light exposure daily, especially in the morning.
  • Position your workspace: Arrange your work area so that it receives ample daylight, using windows and skylights wherever possible.

Manage Indoor Lighting

  • Brightness: Keep indoor lights bright during the day to mimic natural sunlight, especially if your exposure to natural daylight is limited.
  • Dim lights at night: As the evening progresses, dim your ambient lighting to help signal to your body that it’s time to wind down. Utilize lamps instead of overhead lights.

Technology and Blue Light

  • Use technology wisely: Leverage apps and settings on smartphones, tablets, and computers that reduce blue light exposure in the evening.
  • Set a technology curfew: Try to turn off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime to give your body a break from blue light.

Consistency is Key

  • Regular sleep schedule: Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day sets a routine that your body can adapt to.
  • Pre-sleep routine: Establish a calming pre-sleep routine that begins at the same time each night.

The Benefits of Light-Based Circadian Regulation

Proper management of light exposure can lead to numerous health benefits:

  • Improved sleep quality and duration: Aligning light exposure with your body’s natural circadian rhythm can promote better sleep patterns.
  • Enhanced mood and cognitive function: Regular sleep cycles and natural light exposure are linked to improved mood and sharper cognitive functions.
  • General health and wellbeing: Synchronizing your circadian rhythm enhances metabolic processes, boosts immune function, and reduces the risk of chronic diseases.


Resetting your internal clock using light is a powerful yet often underutilized strategy for enhancing circadian health. As Johanna Altman illustrates through her daily practices, making thoughtful adjustments to our light exposure patterns can lead to significant improvements in our health and quality of life. By understanding and respecting the natural cycles of our bodies, we can live more harmoniously within the rhythms of the day and lead healthier, more balanced lives.