Everything you need to know about circadian rhythm
-Jul 22, Dr Sara Palmer Hussey, PhD, Health -
Lumity is unique in that it is designed to work in harmony with the body’s circadian rhythm. Optimum health comes from balance and respecting the body’s cycles. The body has two very different modes of functioning between day and night and, by understanding and tailoring supplementation to the very different needs of each cycle, we can reinforce the healthier functioning and efficiency of our bodies, writes Dr Sara Palmer Hussey, PhD, (pictured above).
What is the Circadian Rhythm?
Life has evolved on planet Earth under a consistent day/night cycle, which entrains corresponding biorhythms in the body. The body’s natural circadian rhythm is a primordial cycle that originates in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, a tiny region of the hypothalamus in the brain. It receives its cues from natural light and basically creates two shifts for the body, the day shift and the night shift. This master clock regulates sleep, body temperature, cardiac activity, blood pressure, hormone secretion, oxygen consumption and metabolic rate.
Our body is thus primed to be active during the day and then to switch to a rest and repair mode during the night.
Although circadian rhythms are built into the functioning of the body’s systems, they can be shifted forwards and backwards, as we see when we cross time zones. The time of adjustment to a new circadian rhythm is known as jet lag.
Our circadian rhythm is principally regulated by light. Information regarding light passes from our eyes to the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which passes this information on to the pineal gland. As the light begins to dim in the evening, the pineal gland begins to release the hormone melatonin, which prepares the body for sleep. As light returns in the morning, melatonin levels fall and cortisol levels rise to their highest daily levels, which prepares us to get active.
How to prepare for a good night’s sleep
Respecting the body’s circadian rhythm means acknowledging the two different cycles of the body and synchronising activities with them – during the day, the body is primed to be active and to digest food, during the night, the body prioritises repair, detoxification and regeneration functions; these cannot be optimised if the body is still in active mode. So, ideally, in order to prepare for a good night’s sleep, in the evening as natural light dims, we should reduce our exposure to bright lights, shut down screens, and finish eating and exercising at least a couple of hours before bedtime. The consequences of periods of insomnia, disrupted sleep by babies or shift work can be mitigated as long as they are not protracted for years.
Your circadian rhythm works best when you have regular sleep habits. When things get in the way, like jet lag, daylight savings time, or a compelling sporting event on TV that keeps you up into the wee hours of the morning, you can disrupt your circadian rhythm, which makes for health issues, including you not looking and feeling your best. `
How can we support our circadian rhythm?
For optimum health, your body works best when you respect a regular sleep/wake cycle, like going to bed at night and waking up in the morning around the same times from day to day (including weekends). It can be shifted slightly earlier or slightly later, but it’s the regularity your body likes as it prepares hours in advance for processes like going to sleep or waking up or eating and when these processes are delayed or shifted too much (by travelling, staying up late to watch TV, eating late in the evening, etc.), you don’t get the benefit of the body’s way of optimising different functioning modes and you may start to feel out of sorts (tired and under the weather).
Find out more! Here’s everything you need to know about Lumity’s Day and Night supplement.