Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that are part of the body’s internal clock. Humans, animals, and plants have them.
“Circadian Rhythm has uncapped potential to prevent manners and cure many diseases that affect billions of people” -Dr. Satchin Panda
Have you ever noticed you get tired when it’s dark? Or even a bit sleepy on an overcast and dreary day? That’s your body’s internal clock recognizing the dark and thinking to itself, “Hey, it’s time to get some sleep!”.
Our brain contains a clock that helps us with our sleep-wake cycle every day. This master clock sends signals to the rest of the body to help us get through our day and function to the best of our ability.
With this clock, there is an optimal time to do just about everything. Sleep, eat, workout and even…poop!
“Health lies in healthy Circadian Rhythms”
DISRUPTIONS IN YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
Disruptions in the most basic Circadian Rhythm, your sleep-wake cycle, leads to hormonal imbalances that affect our mood, eating habits & metabolism which can lead to obesity, diabetes & depression to name a few.
The 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine was awarded to Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young on their search for how to influence your circadian Rhythms.
Your sleep-wake cycle, for instance, is mainly affected by light and food. This is where the main disruptions occur. Spending too much time inside or outside or watching TV late at night will disrupt the “normal” patterns our brains have been trained to recognize over thousands of years.
Blue light, the light from your tv, phone, or any other electronic device, signals your brain to stop producing melatonin (it thinks… “Hey, it’s time to be away because the sun is out” – even if it’s 2 am!).
Normally, your body will naturally start to produce melatonin as it gets later and darker out but exposure to blue light can halt your production affecting the quality of your sleep.
Poor sleep disrupts your hormones. Hormones influence everything from your mood, to your energy to your weight loss (or gain!).
Check out this sweet graph I made (just kidding, I found it with Google) that has the standard circadian rhythm for MOST human beings!
WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR CIRCADIAN RHYTHM
- Go to bed & wake up at the same time (Sleep Consistency). I’ve talked about this in previous posts and the fact that I’m saying it AGAIN should drive home the importance of this first step!
- Avoid meals before bed (and especially caffeine). Limit food to 2-4 hours before bed. The timing of your meals can affect your circadian rhythms as well. This is where a circadian fast can be beneficial (Only eating when the sun is out) It can get difficult with the time of year and depending on where you live but a good rule of thumb, don’t eat then go to sleep.
- Have all your meals at consistent times each day. When we know when our meals are coming our bodies can prepare for them which will help with digestion. In essence, we are reinforcing our circadian rhythm with good habits and behaviors.
- Avoid blue light exposure 1-2 hours before bed. if you are reading this you’re just like me and are all about health & wellness so winding down with a book and maybe some stretching is the best way to go.
- Get outside! Spend time in the sun, ideally in the morning. Let your master clock know its morning by getting outside for about 15-30 minutes.
Make a few small changes to your routine and be consistent. You’ll find the improvements in your mood, energy and output to be more than worth the effort!