The Body Clock
"Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm, and harmony.
The body clock is the biological clocks that dictate many functions of your physiology. Important yet not talked about, may these bodily rhythms be the key to upgrading your energy and happiness?
The body clock is also known as the circadian rhythm. The term circadian comes from latin, cerca means approximately and dian means a day. In other words, the 24 hour cycles of our body. Circadian rhythms have been shown to exist in all organisms, from the biggest to even uni-cellular organisms.
You may be wondering what the circadian rhythm actually does. The body clock is one of the most important phenomena and controls hundreds of different aspects of your body. Here are only a few examples:
Coordinates mental and physical systems (1).
Cellular energy production (2).
Heartbeat rhythm and pace (3).
Body temperature (4).
Alertness and behavior (5).
Growth of blood vessels (6).
Detoxification of the brain (7).
Sensitivity of your smell (8).
and much more!
Your body clock is controlled by the stimuli from your environment. There are four main stimuli that control it, here are them in order of most important to least important:
(1) Light intensity and colour
Light is the most important stimulus for your body clock. Two aspects of light control your body clock:
light intensity, and
The more intense the light in your environment, the more alert you will be. This is based on nature, which follows a cycle with the brightest time at noon. If your environment is of a certain brightness, your body knows that it is day. Similarly only if it is dark does your body know that it is night. That means that if you use bright lights at night, your body thinks that it is daytime. No wonder you have a hard time falling asleep!
Making sure that your environment is dark at night is important. Darkness at night helps your body produce the hormone melatonin. Melatonin is the most cancer-fighting and anti-inflammatory molecule in your entire body!
Light colour means the specific wavelengths and spectrum of light that is being emitted from the sun. For example, do you notice that during dawn/sunrise and dusk/sunset, there are warm colours present in the sky? These colours are not only soothing but being outside for just a few minutes during these times really helps your body establish a healthy body clock.
There are many ways that you can use light to manipulate and improve your body block. An amazing habit is to go outside in the morning for just 5 - 10 minutes and bask in the morning sunlight. This is enough to tell your body that it is morning and that it needs to kick start metabolism. Not to mention, this habit can help you manage your weight too! (9)
How you time your food during the day is important too. Eating after the sun has set heavily disrupts your body clock – at a time when it is supposed to repair and relax it is digesting a meal. This is a recipe for disaster. Eating food late causes a whole host of problems, including but not limited to cancer, diabetes, weight gain, and memory problems. (10) It's a great idea to make it a habit to eat early, such as eating dinner at 6 p.m.
Although it's not that important, how you time your exercise is important to set your body clock right. Exercise after 6pm damages this body clock because it stimulates the body right when it should be winding down. Exercise also causes an elevated body temperature which clashes with sleep. Instead, exercise in the morning. If you exercise in the evening, make sure to finish by 6pm!
Your body clock is important. It controls almost everything in your body and if your body clock is messed up, you'll be tired and cranky and sick.
Lucky for you, you're now equipped with the knowledge and skills to build a healthy body clock!
My personal circadian rhythm practices
I make sure to go outside when i wake up.
Our family has shifted its dinner time to 5:30-6pm, ensuring that we finish our dinner before sunset.
After sunset i keep my room dark using black-out blinds.
What do YOU do to keep your body in the daily rhythm? Let me know in the comments below.