Setting Your Body's Clock

The technical term for your internal body clock is called your circadian rhythm, and it has final say on when you tire out.

If you have trouble nodding off at night, maybe it's time to get in touch with your circadian rhythm. It regulates the 24-hour daily cycle of all biological processes. In its simplest form, your brain wants to sleep when it's dark outside, and be awake when it's light.

All living things -- humans, animals, plants, microbes -- are influenced by circadian rhythms, which are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a 24-hour cycle. In the current issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Michael Thomashow, University Distinguished Professor of Molecular Genetics, along with MSU colleagues Malia Dong and Eva Farré, identified that the circadian clock provides key input required for plants to attain maximum freezing tolerance.

His research led to the identification of the C-repeat binding factor, or CBF response pathway, a stress pathway that can be found in many different plants and plays a major role in freezing and drought tolerance. Reducing stresses, such as extremes in temperature and drought, can help expand where crops can be grown and increase yields.

Researching the effects of the natural circadian rhythm on plants can easily prove this important relationship, but what about for humans? Well, most times when your circadian rhythm is off, it can cause body stress known as adrenal burn-out.

The adrenals are two small glands, each weighing 3 to 5 grams, which are located above the kidneys. The adrenals have one of the highest rates of blood flow per gram of tissue, and the highest content of Vitamin C per gram of any tissue in the body.

Did you know that the human adrenal gland does not secrete its steroid hormones at a constant level throughout the day? The hormones are actually released in a "cycle" with the highest value in the morning and the lowest value at night. This 24-hour cycle IS the circadian rhythm. An abnormal adrenal rhythm can influence many functions in the body, and can alter the ability of cells to produce energy for daily living activities.

Between the moment you lie down in bed until your alarm clock goes off in the morning, you pass through five stages of sleep, moving between deep sleep, alert stages and dreaming. People who have a hard time rising in the morning, or who suffer with a low energy level during the day, often have abnormal adrenal rhythms and poor circadian rhythms.

Abnormal adrenal rhythms are known to compromise tissue healing. Reduced tissue repair and increased tissue breakdown can lead to muscle and joint breakdown with chronic pain. The adrenal rhythm determines how well we build bone. If the night cortisol level is elevated and the morning level is too high, our bones do not rebuild well, and we are more prone to osteoporosis. The ability to enter REM sleep cycles, i.e. regenerative sleep, is interrupted by high cortisol values at night and in the morning. Chronic lack of REM sleep can reduce the mental vitality and vigor of a person, and induce depression.

Try this Circadian Rhythm Test at http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/sleep/crt/. This test is designed to help assess whether you have a circadian rhythm problem, the severity of the condition, and customize a schedule to shift your circadian rhythm back to its normal pattern. You may feel that some questions have more than one acceptable answer. Please choose the answer that is closest to your situation.

Before you begin taking supplements or medications to help you drop into a deeper sleep, I highly recommend having a hair analysis done first. I never recommend "guessing" when it comes to health concerns. It is always best to know what is really going on inside of your body.

And, here is another simple and natural tip to reset your circadian rhythm to be more in sync with the rest of the world: try the BionicSleep Band, new resonance technology that is having great effects on people using it. If it doesn't help within a week to ten days, simply return it for your money back. Hey, it beats depending on drugs and pharmaceuticals to get some good sleep.

Sweet dreams!

Posted April 2011 | Permanent Link

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