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Natural Awakenings Charlotte

The Overlooked Importance of Circadian Rhythm

Jan 29, 2019 03:49PM

Daily routines help us establish healthy habits, but they are also an important part of regulating our circadian rhythm, the 24-hour cycle that aids in the physiological processes of all living beings. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that occur on a daily cycle; they are found in humans, plants and even microbes. Essentially, the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour internal clock that works in the background of the brain and helps the body cycle between feeling tired and feeling alert at regular intervals.

One of the biggest factors that affects your circadian rhythm, which is responsive to light and darkness is our sleeping patterns, which is why establishing a regular sleeping pattern and getting enough sleep are key for keeping healthy.

Circadian rhythms are a component part of the body’s master clock, controlled by the hypothalamus gland, which also controls the production of melatonin and other hormones. When less light passes through the optic nerve, the body signals a release of melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy.

Anytime the body goes off that rhythm and is overproducing or underproducing hormones, it is at risk, affecting eating habits, digestion and body temperature. Prolonged abnormal circadian rhythms have been linked to sleep disorders, obesity, depression, diabetes and hormonal imbalances.

Routine is key in maintaining the circadian rhythm, so It helps to get up every morning at the same time and go to bed at the same time each night. Eating meals on a schedule also helps keep your system on track. At least seven hours per night is recommended.

Consuming caffeine, watching television or using a computer, tablet or phone all throw off the body’s natural sleeping pattern. Caffeine binds to adenosine receptors in the brain, which unnaturally energizes the body, and the light from screens tricks the brain into thinking it’s still daytime and so does not allow it to naturally release melatonin.

 

Dr. Michael Smith is the founder of Carolinas Natural Health Center in Matthews. For more information and appointments, call 704-708-4404 or visit CarolinasNaturalHealth.com. For more information on sleep, visit Tinyurl.com/InsomniaCarolinasNaturalHealth.

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