Circadian refers to your body’s innate 24-hour cycle based on the pattern of the sun.
Your rhythm is a series of physical and chemical changes that occur based on your internal 'clocks'.
Your circadian rhythm is genetically hardwired and influences when your energy levels, hunger, and alertness. You may not realise it, but you often feel best when your lifestyle aligns with your body’s natural rhythm. So what are some of the changes influenced by your body clocks:
Temperature: Your core body temperature drops near your optimal bedtime and rises again just before you wake.
Melatonin: Your melatonin (a hormone that helps you to sleep) begins to increase a few hours before your ideal bedtime.
Cortisol: Your body initiates a rush of cortisol to jumpstart your day.
Growth Hormone: When your circadian rhythm is aligned, a large dose of growth hormone is released in time for nighttime repairs, soon after you fall asleep. If you’re out of circadian alignment, this may occur at the wrong time.
While your body can operate outside of its ideal rhythm, there are health consequences, beyond feeling hangry or struggling to stay awake during the day.
If your lifestyle is chronically misaligned with your circadian rhythm, it can negatively impact your immune, reproductive, gastrointestinal, endocrine (hormone), and cardiovascular systems. Even getting a full night’s sleep may result in a poor distribution of sleep stages if your sleep period occurs at a suboptimal time.
Look for these positive signs to spot when you’re aligned with your circadian rhythm:
- You had a full night’s sleep (7-9 hours).
- You fall asleep in a short period of time (5-20 min).
- You aren’t restless throughout the night.
- You get 20-25% REM sleep.
- You get 15-20% Deep Sleep.
- You wake up feeling well-rested.
If you want to identify your circadian rhythm more quickly, say goodbye to your alarm for a few days—or a week if you can—and observe your body’s natural wake time.
You can also try resetting your body by trading in your bedside lamp for the sun’s natural pattern.