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How to Diffuse Your Body’s Time Bomb

The adage, “a time for everything and everything on time,” is also an excellent health tip. How does following a regular schedule help us? Circadian rhythms are the 24-hour, day-night cycles that impact the efficiency of our biological processes occurring in our cells, tissues, and organs. Not only do we have 24-hour rhythms; we have 12-hours rhythms as well. Aging disturbs our circadian rhythm and body clocks.

Almost one-third of all genes are influenced by circadian rhythms. When these rhythms become out of balance, they contribute to cancer, heart disease, inflammation, hormonal imbalance, autoimmune conditions, and arthritis. Disturbed biorhythms trigger inflammation, a major player in chronic diseases.1 Exposure to sunlight and at the appropriate time, regularity for meals, rising, retiring, and other lifestyle practices can help you reset the button for myriads of body clocks. By our lifestyle choices, we can disturb or reset our many biological clocks.

Derived Benefits from a Regular Schedule

Reduces Fatigue

When we follow an irregular schedule, fatigue surfaces three to four hours earlier than when we follow a regular schedule.2

Increases Energy

The power plants in our cells are essential in supplying us with energy. They are governed in part by circadian or 24-hour cycles. If you want more energy, cultivate regular times for eating, sleeping, and rising. Why? An irregular schedule disturbs these power plants’ natural rhythm and decreases their energy production.3

Improves Mental Health

Incorporating a regular schedule for healthy meals and exercise, with early-to-bed patterns, improves our ability to handle stress. It also mitigates some of the negative effects of stress. Regularity helps to maintain cortisol within normal limits and reinforces the natural biorhythms of the body.

An irregular schedule seems to reduce mental flexibility.4 Mental flexibility enables us to perceive and handle different situations in different ways. It also helps us to respond effectively to new and complex problems.

Irregular schedules increase the risk for mental illness in susceptible individuals. Disruptions of daily rhythms of the body’s master internal clock cause depression and anxiety-like behaviors.5,6 One reason for the increased risk for depression is that a disturbed circadian rhythm can reduce the level of serotonin. Serotonin is a brain chemical essential for positive outlook and self-control. Rotating shift workers have lower levels of serotonin.7

Improves Brain Performance

A sobering study found that long-term shift-work (ten or more years) substantially decreases cognitive performance and ages the brain. The lower scores were found to be equivalent to 6.5 years of age-related cognitive decline. Although the effects could be reversed, full recovery could take as long as five years.8 Irregular hours in sleeping negatively impact the academic performance in college students. Studies show that irregular patterns of sleep and wakefulness correlate with lower grade point average, delayed sleep/wake timing, and delayed release of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin.9

Sweetens the Disposition

Regularity in sleeping improves our moods, increases our happiness, and boosts calmness both during the morning and evening hours. Even just making the transition from an irregular to a regular schedule helps.10 In contrast, social jet lag or staying up late on the weekends is linked to poorer health, worse mood, and increased sleepiness and fatigue.11

Enhances Appetite Control

Disturbed circadian rhythms often contribute to weight gain and impulsive behavior. Two appetite regulating hormones, leptin and insulin go up.12 Disruption of the circadian clock can disturb the composition of gut bacteria in the intestines.13 Friendly bacteria make helpful compounds that help you to resist disease. In contrast, unfriendly bacteria generate pro-inflammatory compounds that promote obesity, metabolic problems, and even depression.

Relieves Pain from Arthritis

Cartilage cells in joints have a functioning body clock that switches on and off the genes controlling tissue function. The genes that regulate human circadian rhythm are significantly disturbed in individuals who have rheumatoid arthritis.14 Scheduled exercise, regular meals, and the periodic warming and cooling of joints could be used to relieve the symptoms of osteoarthritis.15

Reduces the Risk of Diabetes

Insulin-secreting islet cells (beta cells) in the pancreas have their own biological clock. This clock governs the rhythmic behavior of proteins and genes involved in insulin secretion, with oscillations over a 24-hour cycle. The clock of the beta cell coordinates glucose management, and the loss of the clock inhibited the cells from secreting insulin.16 There are thousands of genes in the pancreas sensitive to the light-to-dark circadian rhythm.17 So regularity of schedule becomes a foundational issue for anyone who has diabetes or prediabetes.

Suggestions for Shift Workers

Limit fat and sugar intake.

The food we eat helps to regulate the daily rhythm of many aspects of human behavior and biology.18 If you have to be on an irregular schedule, limit your fat and sugar consumption. Why? A disruption of circadian rhythms, when combined with a high-fat, high-sugar diet, may contribute to inflammatory bowel disease and other harmful conditions. Prebiotics or probiotics in the diet can help normalize the effects of circadian rhythm disruption on the intestinal microbiota, reducing the presence of inflammation.19

Get full 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep.

Silence phones. Cover your eyes with a soft, dark scarf. Fragmented sleep has been linked to several health disorders. Keep as regular a schedule as possible. Get sunshine at a regular time each day

Lipoic acid may help.

There is evidence from aging animals that phytochemical lipoic acid appears to reset and synchronize circadian rhythms. Broccoli, tomatoes,spinach, and Brussels sprouts contain lipoic acid. 20

© 2018 – 2020, Wildwood Sanitarium. All rights reserved.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is educational and general in nature. Neither Wildwood Lifestyle Center, its entities, nor author intend this article as a substitute for medical diagnosis, counsel, or treatment by a qualified health professional.

Sources

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  3. University of Basel. “Our circadian clock sets the rhythm for our cells’ powerhouses.” ScienceDaily. 6 March 2018. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/03/180306093116.htm
  4. Society for Neuroscience. “Disruption Of Circadian Rhythms Affects Both Brain And Body, Mouse Study Finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2009. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026225744.htm
  5. Landgraf, D. Genetic Disruption of Circadian Rhythms in the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus Causes Helplessness, Behavioral Despair, and Anxiety-like Behavior in Mice. Biological Psychiatry, 2016; 80 (11): 827 DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsych.2016.03.1050
  6. Ohio State University. “Depression linked to altered activity of circadian rhythm gene.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 November 2010. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101110091111.htm
  7. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Rotating Shift Workers Have Lower Levels Of Serotonin.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 August 2007. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070801091343.htm
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  9. Andrew J. K. Irregular sleep/wake patterns are associated with poorer academic performance and delayed circadian and sleep/wake timing. Scientific Reports, 2017; 7 (1) DOI: 10.1038/s41598-017-03171-4
  10. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Sleep regularity is important for the happiness and well-being of college students: Study shows the importance of regular sleep patterns.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170605085336.htm
  11. American Academy of Sleep Medicine. “Social jet lag is associated with worse mood, poorer health and heart disease: Delaying your sleep schedule on weekends has health consequences.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 June 2017. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170605085326.htm
  12. Society for Neuroscience. “Disruption Of Circadian Rhythms Affects Both Brain And Body, Mouse Study Finds.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 October 2009. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091026225744.htm
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  14. European League Against Rheumatism. “Genes That Regulate Human Circadian Rhythm Significantly Disturbed In Individuals With Arthritis.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 June 2009. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/06/090610124629.htm
  15. Manchester University. “Body clocks linked to osteoarthritis.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 11 June 2013. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/06/130611204534.htm
  16. Northwestern University. “Circadian clock in pancreas directly linked to diabetes.” ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 19 June 2010. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100618141627.htm
  17. Dibner C. A pancreatic clock times insulin release. Science, 2015; 350 (6261): 628 DOI:10.1126/science.aad5412
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  20. Dove Keith. Lipoic acid entrains* the hepatic circadian clock and lipid metabolic proteins that have been desynchronized with advanced age. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2014.05.112

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