Circadian Rhythm and SleepYour circadian rhythm and sleep impact almost every aspect of your life. Think back to your last vacation. You ate when you were hungry, slept when you were tired, and had enough energy to do everything on your itinerary. In short, you felt great! That's what it feels like when your circadian rhythm is balanced. Flash forward to "real life," and something feels off, that vacation-glow has worn off. This is what it feels like when your circadian rhythm is out of sync. Why can't we feel vacation rested all the time? Thanks to scientific research and innovation, it is possible to feel less stress, get better sleep, and enjoy enhanced vitality. It's even possible to feel more rested once you tap into the power of your circadian rhythm. Read on to learn how circadian rhythm affects sleep.
Jennifer Cooper, Chief Scientific Officer of RestoreZ, is passionate about the relationship between balanced circadian rhythm and high-quality sleep. "If we could just get the word out that sleep matters, that circadian rhythm and synchronizing our circadian rhythm is important, we could have an unprecedented effect on people’s health. "
What Is Circadian Rhythm?All living things, from plants and animals to humans, are regulated by an internal “clock” that operates on a daily schedule lasting approximately 24-hours. This clock helps organisms know when it’s time to perform essential functions for survival. For example, your biological clock makes you sleepy at night and wakes you up in the morning. Your internal clock, also known as your circadian rhythm, is responsible for more than just your sleep/wake cycle. Studies are beginning to reveal that the circadian rhythm is fully accountable for a healthy, functioning body regulating everything from behavior to cell division, to hormone production. In 2017, Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young broke new ground in this field, earning the Nobel Peace Prize in Physiology and Medicine.The researchers discovered the molecular mechanisms that control circadian rhythm - how the biology of humans, plants, and animals synchronize with the Earth’s revolutions. Hall, Rosbash, and Young identified, isolated, and studied a gene that regulates protein components that ultimately affect our biological clock. Over a 24-hour cycle, the protein levels accumulated and depreciated in sync with what the researchers understood as the circadian rhythm. They then forged forward to learn how this process could be manually generated and sustained. This groundbreaking discovery led to the foundation for RestoreZ.
How Circadian Rhythm Affects the Body
Circadian Rhythm and SleepYour circadian rhythm regulates several systems in the body, most notably sleep. Modern American society finds it difficult to accept that rest is not a luxury. Yes, it feels good, but it's also vital for overall health and keeping our life cycle balanced. While you snooze, the body is hard at work, focusing on cellular repair, division, and maintenance. Circadian rhythm disruption often manifests as poor sleep. You might experience trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or waking up feeling rested. In turn, a lack of quality sleep can affect other body functions.
Circadian Rhythm and DigestionResearch out of theTeaching Hospital of the University of Jena in Germany explains that biological rhythms influence daily food intake, hunger cues, feelings of satiety, and resulting digestion. This feedback loop flows from the hypothalamus in the brain, through your genes and hormones, to the gastrointestinal tract in slow waves dictated by your circadian rhythm. The study notes that circadian disruption due to poor sleep can lead to digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or peptic ulcers. An altered sleep/wake pattern may also help explain obesity, since food is consumed when it's convenient, instead of when your body needs it.
Circadian Rhythm and ImmunityYour internal clock can also affect immune functions. According to the research journal Nature Reviews Immunology, your system's response to potential microbial threats, tissue damage, and elimination of toxic cellular elements are impacted by your circadian rhythm. When an organism experiencesinflammation -- the body's signal of cellular damage or irritation -- your circadian rhythm begins to oscillate. This disrupts the natural flow of your system and can trigger chronic disease. A range of illnesses from cancers and autoimmune disorders, to infectious diseases, can betraced to inflammation.
Circadian Rhythm and MemoryDo you have trouble recalling names and dates? Your circadian rhythm also influences how you learn, remember, and retrieve information from memory. The hippocampus plays a major role in integrating circadian information into the ways you learn and commit information to memory through processes such as synaptic remodeling and neurogenesis, according to an article inBehavioral Neuroscience. When your circadian rhythm is in sync, you anticipate changes and form associations with stimuli in your environment, then respond accordingly. Sometimes, however, you feel “off” and exercise poor judgment and decision making skills. Why? Your brains weren't able to retrieve the needed information to be effective. It's likely these moments coincide with an unbalanced circadian rhythm.
Circadian Rhythm and Cellular RepairYour internal clocks also influencenutrient sensing, the ability to respond to environmental nutrient levels to maintain cellular processes, such as hormonal signals and the regulation of human metabolic diseases. For example, an article in theJournal of Clinical Investigation links the processes in the body that control sleep with metabolism. When one of these systems is disrupted at a cellular level, humans become predisposed to metabolic disorders such as type 2 diabetes and obesity.
Circadian Rhythm and Muscular HealthFinally, there really are optimal times to do everything in our lives, including exercise. TheBMJ Open Sport & Exercise Medicine journal explains that being mindful of circadian time cues (known as zeitgebers) can trigger chronobiological homeostasis, which leads to improved health and physical performance. Put simply, informed timing of exercise paired with a lifestyle that honors the natural rhythms of our bodies by avoiding circadian disrupters, can enhance the prevention of disease and help move toward physical or therapeutic goals.
Why a Balanced Circadian Rhythm Is So ImportantWhencircadian rhythm is balanced, you experience optimal functioning of all body systems. You'll easily hear and respond to your body's natural cues as they ebb and flow over a 24-hour cycle. Here are a few aspects you may notice.
- Fewer food cravings and improved digestion: When your body is optimized, you won’t wanker to the cookie jar or experience irregular bowel movements. Hunger and digestion regulate themselves.
- More stable emotions and mental functioning: Your memory recall improves, you can think more clearly and logically, and you can better manage your responses to the world around you.
- Fall asleep easier, wake up with focus, feel more rested and achieve productive, restorative sleep: Rest is the key to allowing your body to regenerate and refresh itself each day. When your circadian rhythm is in sync, the sleep process improves.
- Better overall physical health: When you’re eating the foods your body needs, your mental health is in check and your sleep is optimal. The systems in your body align, which reduces inflammation and disease, improving your physical health.
Circadian Rhythm Disruption
What Happens When Your Circadian Rhythm Is out of SyncThe fact of the matter is that outside influences have more control over your schedule than you do. Days are planned around the clock, kids, clients, and friends - but not necessarily what is best for your body. The further you stray from what you need, the more warning signals your body emits physically and mentally. This approach can lead to circadian disruption. This circadian unbalance causes your body’s systems to struggle and not perform as intended. A fewcommon disrupters include working late-night work shifts, jet lag from travel and alcohol abuse.
"When we think about all of the external things that impact circadian rhythm, the reality is that those external things do one of two things; they either interfere with our natural circadian rhythm or they reinforce our natural circadian rhythm," says Mary Marbach, CEO RestoreZ natural supplements for circadian rhythm health.
Common Examples & Symptoms of Circadian Rhythm DisruptersIf you experience any of these, your circadian rhythm is likely out of balance:
- Poor sleep or lack of sleep:Feeling groggy in the morning, sleepy in the afternoons, and being unable to nod off when you hit the sheets are telltale signs that your body's rhythm is not in sync with itself and your environment.
- Irregular insulin levels:This symptom directly reflects an imbalance in our circadian rhythm, which in part dictates insulin distribution in our bodies. When ourinsulin levels are not properly maintained, we become predisposed to insulin resistance, Type 2 diabetes, metabolic disease, and obesity.
- Decreased mental sharpness: When you don't get quality sleep and your insulin levels spike and dip, your brain simply doesn't function optimally. This can lead to complaints of brain fog, confusion or simply not feeling as alert as usual.
- Staying up late at night: Sometimes logging long hours is avoidable due to work or social engagements, but establishing a sleep/wake routine and sticking to it will benefit your overall health -- and get your circadian rhythm and health back in check.
- Eating at random times: Snacks, cravings and the general availability of food make it easy to grab a bite when something looks enticing. Instead, listen to your body and eat when you feel hunger. It's not always at traditional breakfast, lunch, and dinner times.
- Less ability to cope mentally and emotionally: When you don't feel good, it's easy to lose patience, and feel irritable. Do you take timeouts from difficult situations to 'clear your mind' and get a better grasp on things? That's your body requesting rest!
- Using technology/lights late into the evening:Thesleep-disturbing effects of blue light from computers, tablets, and cellphones are well known. As technology increasingly becomes a permanent fixture, there are many more signals that can pull you out of circadian balance instead of reinforcing your natural flow.