Circadian rhythms prepare your body for expected changes in the environment such as time for eating and sleeping. An emerging field called chronobiology studies these circadian rhythms that follow a 24-hour cycle. They respond to light and dark and food timing also plays a role in regulating the clocks in your other organs.
The master clock located in the suprachiasmic nuclei of the hypothalamus in the brain sets the timing and governs release of hormones, digestion and body temperature. Your heart beats in a rhythm, stomach, and intestines contract in a rhythm to digest, absorb and move food through your intestines, the liver detoxifies and secretes hormones in rhythm, and adrenal glands secrete hormones in rhythm and so do all of the other hormone secreting glands.
Timing is Everything
You heard the saying: “Timing is everything.” Your body regulates its functions in perfect timing unless you disrupt it. Your organs and tissues have clocks that act in sequence. In order to work properly, they must be aligned or in sync.1 Think of a car wash, if you get stuck in the soap cycle and then went on to the dry cycle, this loss of synchronicity of wash, rinse, dry does not occur and something is off.
Cortisol and glucocorticoids are important hormones that regulate of many functions. Cortisol a major glucocorticoid has a 24-hour rhythm. It rises in the morning and gets low at night. It regulates immunity, inflammation, metabolism, your ability to think, mood, growth, reproduction, and heart rate, blood pressure and the stress response. Light and dark as well as food timing has an effect on the master clock, the secretion of cortisol and every other clock in your body. Melatonin that regulates sleep, peaks when cortisol is at its lowest 1
Dangers of Being Out of Sync
Misalignment of clocks may increase the risk of disease. It can have effects on the immune system, cardiovascular system, and metabolism. Since light has a major effect on the master clock, light pollution or light at night was found to increase the incidence of cancer, metabolic disorders, and mood disorders.2 Light pollution increased the risk of obesity, diabetes and heart disorders. 3,4 Light at night disrupts the master clock as well as all of the other clocks. If cortisol is high at night, it can disrupt your sleep. Lack of sleep has many consequences such as accidents, falls, poor decision making, infection such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, infertility, decreased sperm causing infertility in men, and stroke. And it causes you to lose brain tissue. Your brain shrinks when you don’t sleep!
The strategies to align your clocks are simple. They have the strongest response to light and food timing.
- Wake up and go to sleep at the same time every day, even on weekends.
- Sleep in a cool, dark, quiet room
- Use blue light blocking glasses and turn your electronics to twilight or night shift.
- Do not eat or do strenuous exercise late at night.
- Have a wind down routine to avoid raising cortisol at night.
- Write down what is on your mind before going to bed.
- Do not read or watch anything stressful before bedtime.
- If cortisol is high at night when measured in saliva, take phosphatidylserine at bedtime.
- If your sleep cycles are off due to shift work, jet lag or late nights, use melatonin.
- Take short acting melatonin to fall asleep and slow release melatonin to stay asleep.
There are other hormones that need to be balanced and in synch. If you need support in aligning your clocks and treating or preventing lifestyle illnesses, apply for a free, no obligation clarity call to see if we are a good fit. Get in sync to prevent illness.
- Oster H, Challet E, Ott V, et al. The Functional and Clinical Significance of the 24-Hour Rhythm of Circulating Glucocorticoids. Endocrine Reviews. 2017;38(1):3-45. doi:10.1210/er.2015-1080
- Walker WH, Bumgarner JR, Walton JC, et al. Light Pollution and Cancer. Int J Mol Sci. 2020;21(24):9360. doi:10.3390/ijms21249360
- Wyse CA, Selman C, Page MM, Coogan AN, Hazlerigg DG. Circadian desynchrony and metabolic dysfunction; did light pollution make us fat? Med Hypotheses. 2011;77(6):1139-1144. doi:10.1016/j.mehy.2011.09.023
- Scott EM. Circadian clocks, obesity and cardiometabolic function. Diabetes Obes Metab. 2015;17 Suppl 1:84-89. doi:10.1111/dom.12518