The Complete Guide to Circadian Rhythms and How They Affect Your Health

June 1, 2022

Introduction: What are Circadian Rhythms?

A circadian rhythm is a natural process trusted Source that takes place every day. In humans, circadian rhythms are the approximate 24-hour patterns the body and brain go through, allowing for changes in the body’s physical and mental states and mood and behavioral changes.

Circadian Rhythms and Sleep

Sleep and circadian rhythms are fundamental phenomena in biological organisms. Research indicates that lack of sleep and disruptions in circadian rhythms correlate with poor mental and physical health. In modern society, humans live surrounded by various factors that disrupt our sleep and circadian rhythms, such as the internationalization of business, the increasing 24-hour nature of commercial services, the ease of accessibility of information, longer and more unsocial working hours

When properly aligned, a circadian rhythm can promote consistent and restorative sleep. But when this circadian rhythm is thrown off, it can create significant sleeping problems, including insomnia.

Circadian Rhythm and Exercise

Exercise is a strong entrainment signal for the mammalian circadian clock. Proper exercise can have a significant circadian phase-shifting effect and affect the sleep and wake schedule in humans. Disruption of the circadian rhythm also has significant influences on the exercise function.

The strong links between circadian rhythm and exercise play important roles in the heart.

Circadian Rhythm and Eating Patterns

Making smart food choices is the key to eating and living healthy. But now, the latest research shows that when we eat is just as important as what we eat.

Since the circadian system is signaled, in part, by dietary intake, eating at consistent times is important for robust circadian rhythms. Thus, dramatically changing our mealtime from day to day may compromise physiology, similar to how sleep patterns are disturbed after an abrupt change in time zone (i.e., jet lag)

Restricting your eating to a 12 to 15-hour window during the day can be helpful. Eating before bed can also have a negative impact on sleep, so its best to avoid eating late in the evening. At the very least, try timing your last meal so that it a minimum of three hours before you go to bed.

Conclusion: How to Take Advantage of Circadian Rhythms to Live a Healthy Lifestyle

  • Be mindful about your exposure to light.
    • Exposure to bright light during the day — and avoidance of light at night — is arguably the most effective zeitberger to support a healthy circadian rhythm.
  • Prioritize your sleep
    • Optimizing your sleep schedule to the best of your ability is a no-brainer when it comes to nearly all aspects of your health, including supporting your circadian rhythm.
  • Consider the use of melatonin.
    • Substances that can shift our circadian rhythm are called chronobiotics. The most well-known of these is melatonin, an antioxidant and hormone involved in sleep that is naturally secreted about two hours prior to slumber.
    • When taken as a supplement in the evening, melatonin can help restore a more normal pattern of your biological clock

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