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Circadian Rhythm

College of DuPage Nursing Student Nina Velazquez shared that the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that relates to the body’s internal clock. The circadian rhythm can greatly affect people’s physical and mental health. As stated in Suni’s article, “Circadian rhythms work by helping to make sure that the body’s processes are optimized at various points during a 24- hour period” (Suni, 2020). This process relies on lightness and darkness throughout the day to maintain a balance.

Hormonal effects

Different hormones in our body help maintain our internal clock. Hormones such as melatonin and cortisol help us fall asleep and stay awake. Our body receives melatonin during the night time to help us relax and fall asleep. During the day, this hormone is suppressed by the body. Cortisol keeps us awake and alert. This hormone is released by the body in the morning. These natural hormones help us maintain our circadian rhythm (Silver, 2020).

What can affect our circadian rhythm?

There are different external factors that can alter the way our circadian rhythm works. Jet lag and working night shifts is a factor that some people may not be able to control (NIH, 2020). This confuses our body because the functions that occur during the daylight are now occurring in the night, and vice versa. Functions such as the regulation of blood sugar and cholesterol affect our metabolism and weight (Suni, 2020). Unintentional weight gain may also occur.

How can we maintain our circadian rhythm?

We can reinforce our circadian rhythm by getting natural sunlight early in the day. Keeping a consistent sleep schedule and taking naps only in the early day can help our sleep schedule. People should also limit their caffeine intake because caffeine can alter our sleep and wakefulness. These steps can reinforce our internal clock and improve our sleep (Suni, 2020).

Why it matters

Proper functioning of our body during sleep and wakefulness is extremely important. Our total welling-being is greatly affected if the body is not working at its full potential. Steps can be taken to improve our internal clock. It is important to reach out to a doctor if a person is unable to maintain their circadian rhythm or having difficulties with sleep at night.

 

References

 “Circadian Rhythms.” National Institute of General Medical Sciences, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, https://www.nigms.nih.gov/education/fact-sheets/Pages/circadian-rhythms.aspx.

Silver, Natalie. “Circadian Rhythm: What It Is, How It Works, and More.” Healthline, Healthline Media, 13 July 2020, https://www.healthline.com/health/healthy-sleep/circadian-rhythm#sleep-disorders.

“What Is Circadian Rhythm?” Sleep Foundation, 25 Sept. 2020, https://www.sleepfoundation.org/circadian-rhythm.

 

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