All kinds of organisms run on circadian rhythms which help them function, from flowers opening and closing at the best time to nocturnal animals being aware of when to shelter away from predators.
So, what is a circadian rhythm and what is the affect on humans? It’s a 24-hour cycle that is part of our brain’s internal clock, running in the background to carry out essential body functions and processes. One of our most important circadian rhythms is the sleep-wake cyclewhich, when properly aligned can promote consistent and restorative sleep and, when not, can wreak havoc.
According the the Sleep Foundation, our circadian rhythms help coordinate both mental and physical systems in our bodies from digestion to sleep. They are connected to a type of pacemaker in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) within our brains where, at different times of the day, clock genes send signals to regulate activities throughout the body.The SCN is highly sensitive to light, which acts as an external cue influencing signals it sends to coordinate internal body clocks. This is why day and night are so important to circadian rhythms.
When your circadian rhythm is thrown off, your body doesn’t function properly. Therefore, getting good rest is restorative, helping with immunity, mental health, and metabolism among other things. And a disturbed sleep may also bring about insomnia and other sleep disorders.
The following sleep tips will help you maintain your body’s circadian rhythm and overall health.
Sunlight: exposure to natural light, specifically early in the day, reinforces the strongest circadian cue. Consistent Sleep: avoid varying bedtime or morning regimens and your circadian rhythm will remain stable. Watch Caffeine Intake: If you drink coffee or other caffeinated beverages, be careful not to drink them too late in the day or your balance between sleep and wakefulness will be off. Dim the Lights Before Bedtime: Even artificial lights at night will interfere with your circadian rhythm. Dim your lights well ahead of bedtime and also avoiding screens will benefit your body. Don’t Nap Too Long: Your sleep schedule will be off if you sleep too late or too long into the day.