Circadian rhythms are fascinating 24 hour internal cycles that regulate everything from when we need to sleep to when we are mentally most alert.
All living organisms have circadian rhythms, including humans, animals, plants and microbes and they are all subject to the external cues of their immediate environment, such as light & dark, temperature and environmental chemistry. These elements can all be altered, changed and artificially manipulated to influence the circadian rhythm of the individual, which is good news for anyone working night shifts or unusual work patterns. However a persons chronotype (internal body clock) is biological and can only be influenced rather than fundamentally changed, so while around 50% of the population are neither a morning lark nor an archetypal night owl, if you do happen to sit at either end of the body clock spectrum, it may not be that healthy to force an unnatural sleep / wake pattern.
Further understanding of how our own personal circadian rhythm works and what portion of the 24 hour cycle is best for different activities, means we can optimise each one of them whilst keeping good homeostasis.
Observing the 24 hour cycle helps develop and maintain routine and it’s also well worth the consideration of what our body naturally wants to do, tweaking activity times accordingly to avoid continually feeling fatigued or sluggish.
See below a diagram of proven times for bodily functions, including the best time to exercise.
– This article has been published in the September edition of Life Magazines – http://www.lifemagazines.co.uk