Body’s Clock & Your Health
Body’s clock is an internal mechanism that regulates physical and mental functions in rhythm with normal daily activities
The body clock or biological clock is a 24-hour cycle (circadian rhythm). The body clock resides in the middle of the brain and called as suprachiasmatic nucleus. Body clock is affected by light and darkness and influences our sleeping, waking, body temperature, balance of body fluids and functions viz. hunger, thirst etc.
The body clock is not limited to human species, as every living creature (algae to zebra) has one within it. Going against the body’s clock will lead to ruin of your health and irreversible health complications. However, achieving harmony with the body clock means to have a long, happy and healthy life.
A common point that humans sleep during night and work during day. The hormone ‘melatonin’ is considered as responsible for being awake and asleep, as melatonin is produced less during day, and more during night. However, this sleep and awake rhythm in line with night and day finds to be disturbed by today work style characterized by night-shifts.
Jet lags also affects the sleep-awake rhythm, as moving across time zones is something new for the body to adjust. When you are starting from Chicago and landing in Rome, it is night time (11 pm) during departure, and in Rome is it is just dawn. It is observed that, your sleep environment, health condition, smoking and alcohol also affect your sleep. People affected by these have a hard time falling asleep and figuratively called as ‘night owls.’
We eat, sleep and wake at specific times, and these predictable patterns are known as circadian rhythms (Latin ‘circa’ means around, and ‘dian’ means day). These are biological cycles that occur once every 24 hours. Body’s temperature is lowest during 4 am and highest around 7 pm. According to researchers, athletes have shown enhanced performance during evening. The condition called ‘evening pink’ is considered an outcome of higher body temperature, flexible blood vessels and higher heart rate/beats per minute which results in more blood flow and oxygen to fuel muscles.
Hunger is a physiological condition to have food. Usually, our routine to have breakfast soon after we wake up, lunch at noon and dinner every night may or may not give scope for hunger. By avoiding food for some time means to increase the flow of ghrelin, hormone that triggers hunger. Significantly, the body clock influences the ups and downs in the flow of hormone. However, having food at odd hours when it is time to sleep disturbs the biological clock.
During day time, the body clock influences the production of cortisol, adrenalin and serotonin. Cortisol produced by the adrenal glands keeps you awake and helps you to have an active life. Adrenalin keeps you energized, and serotonin helps you to regain consciousness after a night of sleep. A heavy lunch is followed by conversion of serotonin into melatonin. The sleep hormones including melatonin slows down the metabolism and gets one ready for withdrawal and sleep. The hormones’ rise and fall from dawn to dusk is repeated every day.
Menstruation is the normal vaginal bleeding occurs every month when the body prepares for pregnancy. If no pregnancy occurs, the uterus, or womb, sheds its lining. Importantly, the menstrual cycle is controlled by the biological clock. A fairly regular menstrual period happens at intervals of 28 days. The menstrual cycle stops when women are pregnant and during postmenopausal stage when women will not be able to get pregnant.
GROWTH & DEVELOPMENT
Our biological clock is a time-keeping system which helps us to adapt and exist in harmony with the 24 day/night and seasonal changes of the earth. The body’s clock controls growth of different organs and tissues of the body, achieved by generating 24 hour circadian rhythms in our body for hormonal release and cardiovascular, behavioral and other functions. When infants and teens sleep more than adults, the influence of biological clock in promoting growth and development of vital organs of the body can be understood. So, the body composition especially in late childhood and adolescence is regulated by the biological clock.
The profound way to stay healthy is by living in harmony with the body’s clock. Your body’s clock not only promotes growth and development of different organs and tissues, but also forewarns you of the health issues and conditions you may confront on neglecting your health. For setting your body’s clock right, you should start listening to your body’s voices and act accordingly. Also by adapting a healthy lifestyle you can maintain harmony with your body’s clock.