Circadian rhythm is the sleep-wake cycle regulated by our internal hormonal mechanisms based on our external environment. Almost every cell in our body has a molecular clock & these clocks are coordinated by the Suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in our brain, which serves as the body’s master clock & helps regulate our lives in a 24 – hour pattern commonly known as Circadian Rhythm.
Let’s watch this short video before going ahead :
I guess you understood something about the Circadian rhythm. Now let’s see Why is it important?
Our body works as a team where the kidneys respond when the blood pressure rises & liver responds when the blood sugars are high & so on. So it’s teamwork & does not work on linear laws like a machine. The hormones are the messengers & the mechanism is the Circadian rhythm, governed by the Suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in the brain.
As per Evolutionary biology, our human body still has the same response mechanisms as our ancestors, i.e. we are more alert in the mornings. Our digestion is best in the afternoon, though with few exceptions. What are the important factors which guide the circadian rhythm?
1. Almost 50 – 60 % of sensory receptors in our brain are associated with visual receptors, thus making light an important factor for the circadian response.
2. All our body processes are related to energy processes, making the digestive process the next important factor.
In short, it is the Light and Temperature to which our body gets exposed throughout the day & the time of food we eat decide the rhythm of our Circadian phenomenon. In the Netflix lifestyle, are we at least somewhere near the schedules of our grandparents?
Why is Circadian Rhythm significant?
The Circadian Rhythm controls the secretion of hormones by the Pituitary, Pineal gland, which regulates our entire human physiology. The external temperature & light, the food consumption timings regulates our Circadian rhythms significantly than other factors. Thus affecting our sleep quality, alertness levels & decision-making capabilities.
These rhythms have a huge impact on our sleep quality & digestive physiology, leading to disorders like Hypertension, Weight gain & Diabetes.
Our bodies are designed to get exposed to light, temperature, sound & to be fed in a sinusoidal wave pattern for healthy circadian rhythms. It’s nature’s way to get in sync with the biological clocks in every cell of our body. Is it happening so? Our body expects to get exposed to maximum external temperature when the sun is high & cooler temperatures during the night. If we keep our body at a constant external temperature, then we are violating our body’s biological clock. Even the body does not get tired, so could not get good sleep at night.
Even exposure to the blue spectrum of white light post-sunset is a recent phenomenon for our retinal Melanopsin receptors( Blue Light receptors ), disrupting the circadian mechanism by creating an illusion that day has started again. This leads to flattening or reversing the circadian rhythm leading to the reversal of Melatonin, Serotonin, Dopamine hormonal secretions, causing mood fluctuations. This phenomenon is called Circadian disruption. It inturn, it causes disturbed sleep patterns, which is very common in the cities these days.
In the same way, our body expects to have a good heavy meal during the day & a lighter one during the night at least a few hours before sleep. Do we tend to follow it?. The late-night food eating habit is one of the main reasons for the weight gain epidemic, as per many studies on weight gain. The closer the dinner time to sleep, the higher rates of obesity.
This phenomenon of Circadian Disruption when occurs over month & years leads to chronic health issues like Hypertension, Diabetes, weight gain & many others.
To keep things simple, it’s better if we mimic our indoor environments closer to the outdoors by stretching our comfort little towards nature’s clock , we can strengthen our Circadian rhythms.We can work during day in well-ventilated spaces , maintain room temperature in a sinus wave pattern with the maximum in the afternoons & cooler in the night, eat light food at least 2 hours before going to sleep, filter blue light post-sunset or using warm white lamps in the nights. Then they can really help us to sleep well & stay fit.
As said to be healthy , following such simple things consistently matters a lot in the long run. So let’s makes these our habits for life for a healthy body & a healthy mind.
If you still feel Circadian Rhythm is not so important , you may watch what Dr Satchin Panda speaks about Circadian Rhythm & its significance.Dr. Satchin Panda is a leading expert in the field of circadian rhythm research. He is a Professor at the Salk Institute and a founding executive member of the Center for Circadian Biology at the University of California, San Diego.
1.The Perfect Health Diet :Dr. Paul Jaminet, Ph.D.He is an MIT and Berkley-trained astrophysicist. He has worked at Harvard and is the co-author of “Perfect Health Diet “
2.Paleo Manifesto : John Durant ,MIT graduate , Founder of Wild Ventures. NYT bestselling author of “The Paleo Manifesto” and “Spartan Fit!” www.wildventures.vc.
3.The Circadian Code : Dr.Satchin panda, Professor, Salk institute, California
4.What doctors are not taught in medical school : Dr. B.M.Hegde.He is a cardiologist, professional educator and author. He is the former Vice Chancellor of Manipal University.
5.The Obesity Code: Dr Jason Fung
6.The Diabetes code: Dr Jason Fung.