Circadian Disruption: An Overview
The human body is intricately designed to function in a 24-hour cycle known as the circadian rhythm. This natural biological clock tells us when it’s time to wake up and when it’s time to sleep. However, modern lifestyles have made it challenging for many people to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm. Circadian disruption is becoming increasingly common, affecting millions of people worldwide.
What Is Circadian Disruption?
Circadian disruption occurs when an individual’s internal biological clock becomes out of sync with the external environment. For example, working night shifts or traveling across different time zones can cause this disruption by altering our exposure to natural light and darkness, which are crucial for regulating our sleep-wake cycle.
Health Consequences of Circadian Disruption
Disrupting the body’s natural circadian rhythm can lead to various health problems such as insomnia, depression, obesity, diabetes mellitus type 2 (DMT2), cardiovascular disease (CVD), and even cancer.
Insomnia: When your circadian rhythm is disrupted due to shift work or jet lag causes difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep at night
Depression: Lack of sunlight exposure due to changes in work schedule may contribute towards anxiety and depression.
Obesity & DMT2: Studies show that people who work on rotating shifts have higher rates of obesity and diabetes because their eating patterns become disturbed.
Cancer & CVD: Research reveals that nighttime light exposure could increase breast cancer risk among women who worked graveyard shifts for long periods.
Preventing Circadian Disruptions
Various strategies can help prevent disruptions by maintaining a regular sleep-wake cycle:
1) Maintain Regular Sleep Schedule — Try going bed at the same time every day.
2) Avoid Bright Light Exposure — Avoid using electronic devices before bedtime.
3) Get Adequate Sunlight — Spend some time outdoors during daylight hours
4) Manage Stress Levels — Engage in stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
In conclusion, Circadian disruption is a growing health concern that can lead to various health problems. By making simple lifestyle changes and following healthy sleep habits, one can prevent circadian disruptions and improve overall well-being.