The circadian rhythm is the rhythm of life
I have posted in my page on Lifestyle and my post on new findings on sleep on the importance of a sleep cycle which somewhat mimics the rising and setting of the sun. The reason for this is the concept of the circadian rhythm which is found throughout life on earth. I believe we find our best health when we live as close to harmony with this rhythm as possible.
Our body “wakes up” in the morning with a hormonal surge, an increase in blood pressure, and energy to work through the day. The opposite occurs in the evening as our body begins to throttle down in preparation for the sleep and rejuvenation period. You can see the graphic above for a representation of this cycle.
What influences our circadian rhythm?
Optimizing our natural circadian rhythm requires stimuli from various sources. Among these is:
By far the biggest influence is light, and specifically blue light which is the type of light most prevalent in sunlight. We should strive to be exposed to large amounts of blue light during the daytime (as you would outdoors on a bright sunny day) and very little blue light after sundown.
This actually appears to be one of the factors in the increase of sleep disorders these days – how many of us spend our evenings looking at blue light emitting screens such as TV, computers, tablets, phones, etc. All of these interfere with the start of melatonin production, which is the hormone which prepares you for sleep and helps maintain it through the night.
As far as temperature is concerned, generally we receive circadian support from warmer temperatures during the day and cooler temperatures at night. One of the best ways to sleep better is to keep the bedroom significantly cooler than normal. Everyone will need to find their own comfort level here, as if it gets too cold it will tend to wake you often.
Regarding meal timing, we are best served if we do not eat during a 12 hour window from sundown to dawn. This is a time for your body to restore itself, not to have your metabolism up regulated by digestion of food. There appear to be even deeper biological issues with mitochondrial damage from trying to produce energy while you are not using it, which is what we are naturally inclined to do in response to food.
Dr. Jaminet on circadian rhythms
Additonally I have linked to a post on their website, perfecthealthdiet.com, on the same subject, but in relation to curing sleep disorders.
He devotes an entire chapter to the subject as well in his book linked above – I have this book and do recommend it as an excellent resource. Here are the links:
If you are currently stealing from the edges of this natural body rhythm, consider changes which bring you closer to harmony with it. It truly is a matter of working with your body and having it support you rather than having it work against you.