Monday, March 10, 2008

Your Circadian Rhythm

Daylight Savings Time means pushing the clocks ahead in spring for many of us. If you're feeling a bit "out of sorts" following this tradition, it could be owing to your circadian ryhthm.

What is Circadian Ryhthm?

Wikipedia defines it as:
A circadian rhythm is a roughly-24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria.
In other words, it's your internal body clock that keeps on ticking to its own beat.

Circadian rhythms are an intrinsic part of many body systems and processes -- even ones that don't seem to have anything to do with sleep. Although research into this area of health is relatively new, scientists are already discovering that disruptions in our normal 24-hour cycles, such as turning the clocks ahead by one hour, can lead to all sorts of seemingly unrelated problems.

What can Happen when our Circadian Ryhthm is Disrupted?

One recent study found that circadian rhythms (CR) play a key role in metabolism and weight gain, however the most common side effect is insomnia.

As CR plays an important role in determining the sleeping and feeding patterns of all animals, including human beings -- clear patterns are emerging of other functions of CR, including determining of core body temperature, brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle.

When you tamper with your day/night, it may take time for your internal clock to adjust.

Tips for Easing into your new Circadian Rythm

Think you're going to beat your CR into submission after changing the clocks? Think again... It's actually best, if you can't sleep, to ease yourself into the new rythm. If you can't sleep, try avoiding caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol, especially at night. Also, create a restful environment prior to sleep time, with soft music, maybe a warm bath... it all helps.

Happy Daylight Savings Time!