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The Benefits of Embracing Your Biological Clock

by Beth on June 5th, 2023

Your circadian rhythm is your internal representation of time or your biological clock. It helps your body respond to the 24-hour day/night cycle by regulating essential functions. In his book, Life Time, scientist Russell Foster discusses the many well-being benefits of living in harmony with your biological clock. They include:

  • Improved sleep quality – Your circadian rhythm tells your body to feel awake during the day and tired at night. Following a consistent sleep schedule helps you feel energized or tired at the right times. Exposure to natural light is also important. Your eyes distinguish between dawn and dusk, which impacts wakefulness and sleep. Going outside first thing in the morning and limiting bright lights and screen time at night will both help you sleep better.
  • Better digestion and metabolism – We have a completely different metabolic state during the day and at night. Our internal clock signals our digestive system to secrete gastric juices, enzymes, and hormones in the first half of the day to burn calories. At night our bodies store glucose as fat. Eating meals at consistent times and avoiding eating later at night contribute to weight management and metabolic health.
  • Enhanced immune function – Your immune system uses your circadian rhythm to better protect you. During the day you are more likely to encounter viruses or bacteria, so your immune system is more active. When you eat, invasive bacteria may be in your food, so immune cells move to your gut. This means keeping a consistent schedule for meals and sleep can strengthen your immune function.
  • Better mood and mental health – Living in sync with your internal body clock can boost your mood. One study found that people with circadian rhythm disruptions, defined as increased activity at night, decreased activity during the day or both, were more likely to develop major depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Improved cognitive functioning – Circadian rhythms affect attention, memory, and problem-solving abilities. Cognitive performance is high during the day and decreases at night.
  • Long-term health benefits – Adhering to your body’s biological clock has been linked to lower risk of chronic diseases, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

The best ways to work with your circadian rhythm to optimize your well-being are to establish consistent schedules for sleeping and eating and to get exposure to natural light, especially in the morning.  

From → Health, Well-being

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