I had no clue why I felt sleepy by 9:30PM and woke up exactly after 7 hours without an alarm clock everyday. The idea of feeling thirsty had become alien to me at one point. I thought its all just to do with habits, but there’s a whole science to this. Meet our built-in programmer- the circadian system. (pronounced as: sir-kedi-un)
For all humans, plants and animals it is synchronized with the Earth’s rotation. The circadian time is ideally in sync with sun-time and its a 24-hour clock. It is the time keeper for our body temperature, sleep, metabolism, release of hormones, hunger, thirst and all physical functioning of the body.
It is vastly influenced by light. It varies for individuals depending on genetics, habits, food, emotions, activity levels, etc. Seasons and weather also affect this biological clock system.
It can be altered by consciously changing one’s exposure to light, meal time, temperature controlled showers, water intake, activity level, etc.
- Early morning showers help the body to release more white blood cells, which help with a good immunity. You could make it fancy by taking a eucalyptus shower it helps you feel fresh and wide awake.What I do: Put some water and eucalyptus oil mixed in spray bottle. Spray it on the walls of my shower. Switch on the shower to the hottest and let the bathroom steam up for a few seconds, adjust the temperature to have a bath and it is the best thing on earth.
- Less light during the day makes your body produce less serotonin, a hormone for regulating the mood. It also affects the melatonin production in the brain, in turn altering your sleep cycle and stress hormone. Less natural light can thus cause mood fluctuation and make you feel aggressive or irritable. Making sure you get exposed to enough sunlight can help your circadian rhythm to function better. If you are exposed to light at the time your body needs to sleep the brain will get signals that its still not time to go to bed. Cut screen time around bed time to get better sleep. I’m still working on this one.
- Losing weight with some fad diets can prove useless if your circadian rhythm is out of whack. Natural hunger patterns help your metabolism to be in check and the digestion is also at its best. Keeping a time schedule for eating everyday at the same time can create a new habit and eventually make you hungry at that time (I’ve tried that). You need to consult with your grand parents for the right meal times if you’re confused.
The suprachiasmatic nucleusis a patch in the brain, a control room of the circadium system but each cell has its own clockwork. The individual cells are affected by genes thus the circadium system depends on how each of these genes express themselves with age. Babies develop their circadian system only after 3-6 months and there is a loss of rhythm in many of these genes in older people.
The environment and your habits have a huge role in getting our circadian rhythm balanced.
So I guess the age old saying “Early to bed early to rise makes a human healthy, wealthy and wise” now makes sense.
- Importance of morning showers.
- One of the best articles you must read. Morning Sunshine!
- Gut health and Circadian. Throwing light on microbes and the rhythm
- Fun watch on Fasting: Awakening the Rejuvenation from Within | Valter Longo
- Winter and Circadian System
- Every Single Cell in Your Body Is Controlled by Its Own Circadian Clock
- Age and Circadian System
- TED talk on neuroplasticity and how to create a brain you want: Lara Boyd
- Stem cells and Circadian system
- Why circadian clocks? Martha Merrow at TEDxVienna
- If you’re more concerned about sleep issues.
- From the National Sleep Foundation
- You need patience to watch this one. Technical stuff
- Patience to read this one: DIET and circadian system