What is your circadian rhythm?
Circum means “around” and dia means “day.” Your circadian rhythm is your internal body clock and how it reacts to the earth’s internal body clock. Your circadian rhythm is unique to you and works with the earth’s clock to keep your biological systems balanced.
(New paragraph for readability) For instance, the reason jet lag can make you act and feel a little different from your usual self (and make you incredibly tired) is that the different time zones confuse your internal clock. Your body and brain both get used to bright morning light at a certain point of the day and darkness at another. The further you get from your usual geographic location, the more confused your circadian rhythm will likely become.
Why does your circadian rhythm matter?
Major studies have shown a connection between chronic illnesses and disrupted circadian rhythms. The same genes that govern our internal clocks are also responsible for how other systems in our bodies operate as well.
Trials are currently taking place to discover more about this relationship, including its role in causing depression, heart problems, diabetes, cognitive issues, and cancers.
What causes your circadian rhythm to become impaired?
- The use of electronic devices after dark (including phones, t.v., lamps and any other artificial source of light)
- Jet lag
- Sleep disorders
- Shift work
- Other ways of forcing your body to stay up too late or wake up too soon
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Are you raring to go at 6 am with a smile on your face? If so, it’s likely that your circadian rhythm is on the faster end of the scale, making you a morning person.
On the other hand, are you at your best just as others are calling it a night? Do you study best when you’re studying late into the night as opposed to early morning? If you answered yes, then your circadian rhythm may run on the slower end of the scale. Neither is right or wrong; better or worse. We just all have slightly different internal clocks.
Artificial Light and Circadian Rhythm
In order to slow down and sleep, our bodies need to produce melatonin. Bright daylight suppresses melatonin production whereas darkness increases it. Once produced, melatonin is secreted into the bloodstream and the fluid surrounding the brain, signaling to your other organs that it’s time to relax.
Morning light, from just after sunrise to around 11 am, has a higher concentration of the blue in the light spectrum. This is specifically the type of light that your brain searches for as an indication to wake up.
With the rise of technology, scientists are now finding that bright, blue-toned light doesn’t need to be natural to have the same effect on your internal clock as natural morning light. The light that comes from our phones and computers can send the wrong signal to your brain. So, reading on your phone to soon before bed or in bed could lead to a type of forced insomnia. Phones and computers do have settings where you can change the blue light to amber, so it’s less of a trigger, but the light itself will still likely keep you more awake than no light at all.
So, maybe you’re an early bird or maybe your a night owl. Or… maybe you’re an early bird who’s been sleeping like a night owl?
About Stephen’s Place
If you have a loved one with developmental or intellectual disabilities, who is looking for a community to live in, please contact us for more information.
Stephen’s Place is a private-pay apartment community due to our state-of-the-art amenities and programs. We are a nonprofit and do not profit from our community. We are private pay because we spend more than some housing communities to ensure that our residents are comfortable and can safely live their lives with independence and dignity.