Eat, Sleep, Repeat: the brilliant body clock science!

Have you ever wondered how you go to sleep, wake up and feel hungry at the same time every day? How do we know when to wake up without alarms, why don’t we just keep sleeping? Thanks to our body clock that we don’t sleep forever! Today, we will answer these questions and talk about what exactly is our body clock and how it works.

Our Body clock or more scientifically, Circadian Rhythm is a body’s way of keeping track of time to coordinate with vital functions like metabolism( check out my previous blog, if you don’t know what it means!), when we eat or sleep, and when we grow and repair our body cells and tissues. It is a biological clock built in our brain which has a 24-hour frame, aimed at helping us follow a daily routine of various activities to have control over our self. Proper functioning of body and mind depends upon how the person maintains the biological clock. A slight error in its working can cause more harm than it’s worth.

According to research, each and every tissue and organ contains its own biological clock. The activity of these tissues/organs is regulated by certain proteins which interact with the cells. In our body, there is a master body clock that controls all other body clocks; it is called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN). The SCN is present in our brain (specifically in the hypothalamus) and its work is to start circadian rhythms at rest or inactivity, control body temperature, and hormonal functions.

The SCN has a huge amount of nerve cells that are directly connected to our eyes. When our eyes perceive the brightness of the day or darkness of night, the SCN gets activated and they start sending signals to other cells to act accordingly and chemicals in the brain adjust certain factors to be in sync with the rhythm. For example, if its night time, our arousal and awareness decrease and we slowly switch on the sleep mode and also it makes our body temperature drop down to pave a way for a good night’s sleep. When it’s around 1.30 or 2 pm in the afternoon, most of us feel hungry since our energy levels go down during this time, ensuring that we have lunch at the same time every day.

It’s not only the SCN that helps in circadian rhythms, but certain hormones also help. Two hormones, Melatonin and Cortisol are involved in this. Melatonin is a hormone that is produced at night and makes you sleepy. Cortisol is produced during the day, helping you stay alert.

This is how a full cycle of circadian rhythm looks like,

Benefits of healthy circadian rhythm

It is very important to have a synchronized circadian rhythm as its benefits are quite surprising. If u have a healthy body clock you get these benefits in return:

  • Ideal heart rate (60–100 beats per minute)
  • better understanding and perception
  • younger skin
  • excellent immunity
  • better blood sugar levels
  • weight control
  • Proper menstrual function and less risk of breast cancer in women.

Disruption of circadian rhythm and how does it get hampered?

Disruption of your body clock can cause more troubles with an unhealthy state of mind and body. An individual with an out-of-sync body clock may experience heart diseases, psychological stress, and diabetes. These are some ways our circadian rhythm gets disturbed;

(1) Light. Using a bright light at night shifts our need to sleep to a later time. Similarly, being in dark spaces in the daytime promotes sleepiness.

(2) Colour. Research suggests that the blue wavelength has the strongest impact on sleep. Blue and white lights during sensitive periods of the day (2 hours before bed) can make it difficult to fall asleep.

(3) Travel. People who travel frequently across two different time zones experience disruptions in sleep and circadian rhythms. This is called jet lag.

(4) Sleep disorders. Frequent waking and sleeping during the sleep cycle also disturb the body clock.

(5) Shift works. Night shifts disturb the natural circadian rhythm since the body is used to sleeping at night.

How to fix your body clock and use it for your advantage

Circadian rhythms are devised for the well-being of our health and it is a self-control system of the body, which regulates the body’s activities by the 24- hour format of a day. A healthy mind and body are a result of a healthy circadian rhythm. Fix your eating and sleeping habits and everything else will be fixed!

Is there any of these tips you see yourself adopting? Or anything you disagree with? Please let me know in the comments!

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Originally published at https://www-biobomb.blogspot.com on January 9, 2022.

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I am a biology enthusiast and love writing about various topics in biology. Through my writings,i want to make understanding biology easy!

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