Facts about your Body Clock6th July 2022
Our body clock influences, hunger, alertness, fertility, metabolism, mood, and other physiological conditions. Your clock can sometimes be dysfunctional which is responsible for various disorders like insomnia, diabetes, and depression.
Circadian rhythms consist of a group of nerve cells in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, or SCN which is controlled by the master clock.
These rhythms can influence sleep-wake cycles, hormones, body temperature and other important body functions. Abnormal rhythms have also been linked to various disorders such as insomnia, diabetes, obesity, bipolar and depression.
Your master clock, or SCN, controls the production of melatonin, the hormone that helps you sleep. Located just above the optic nerves, it relays information from the eyes to the brain. When there is incoming light, the body stops producing melatonin and at night when there is less light it signals to the brain to produce more.
Herewith are a few tips to keep your clock ticking.
Jet lag happens when travellers suffer from disrupted circadian rhythms. When you pass through different time zones, your body’s clock will be different from your watch. Don’t stress, your body clock will eventually reset within a few days.
The body can only adapt to small changes in your sleep-wake cycle, that’s why even the occasional late night can make you feel jet-lagged and throw your body out of sync. Make sure you try and go to bed at the same time every night and keep up a regular sleep routine.
Coffee at Night
When you drink coffee at night it delays the release of melatonin into your system and fools your body into thinking that night-time will only arrive later.
Try and avoid shift work as it has a big impact on your health and can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Shift work can’t be banned and is necessary for certain industries. Rather plan shifts with circadian rhythms in mind which will enable people to keep their sleep patterns as regular as possible.
Lights and Screens
Exposure to blue light at night from cell phones, TVs, indoor lighting, and street lights confuses the brain and disrupts our body clocks. Light controls our sleep-wake cycle – the circadian rhythm, being exposed to bright lights or blue light makes our brain think it is still daytime. This will suppress the production of melatonin which will then lead to poor sleep and other health issues. Reducing the exposure to screens at night will significantly reduce its negative effects.
Our circadian rhythms influence when we eat, but we can alter our circadian rhythms by when we eat. If we delay mealtimes by five hours, for example, by missing breakfast and only eating late at night, will throw your body clock off balance. It’s important to eat at regular and expected intervals.
Do you consider yourself a lark or an owl? People who rise early are called larks and are more active in the morning, while people who sleep later and are active past midnight are called owls. Our body clocks or circadian rhythms are genetic but can change according to one’s habits.
Don’t force a lifestyle upon yourself that is not in sync with your circadian cycle as it can cause major health risks and harm your mental well-being. Whether you are a morning lark or a night owl, it is important to find your own sleep pattern that matches your circadian rhythm and set the body clock accordingly.