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How to manage risk when your body clock gets out of sync?

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Your body normally has a 24-hour cycle, called the circadian rhythm. This “clock” is incorporated with each cell in your body — in reality, in each living thing on this planet. That is the reason your body additionally has an “master clock”, which keeps you in sync with the genuine day-night cycle that is going on outside your body.

When morning light hits your eyes, it imparts a sign to this master clock that the day has started, and triggers hormones to be discharged to mention to your cells to do what they do best at in the day. That’s why our metabolism works best at daytime while our body tends to be relaxed and resting at night. However, with our daily activities, let’s admit that this is not always the case and it’s really hard to be sync with the Earth’s day and night cycle.

SLEEP

Sleep is probably the most obvious thing that’s tied to the body clock. We humans are diurnal, generally awake and eating food in the daytime, and sleeping when it’s dark.

Morning light — especially the blue part of the spectrum — is a strong cue to your body that it’s time to start waking up and doing things, says Morag Young, an expert in cardiovascular endocrinology at the Baker Institute.

“Trying to avoid exposure to this blue light, which we get from our computer screens and television screens at the biological night is important,” Dr Young says.

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If you will notice with your gadgets, specifically our mobile phones, these come with function like automatic light display to tone down blue light at night. It is also best to stop browsing your phones 2 hours before your intended time of sleep.

“Flexibility and adaptability is one of the key unique aspects of humanity,” he says.

“Yes, you could improve your circadian system, but everything in life has costs and benefits.”

“If I forego half an hour of sleep relative to my peers when I’m young for a couple of years and I end up a doctor or a professor … That might be an eminently sensible decision.”

Similarly, he says, many people don’t get to worry about sleeping at optimal times, because their work or family situation means being up at night is a necessity.

EATING

Sleep is just part of our body clock, when you eat plays a big role too. Eating sends a sign to your body’s cells that it’s ‘day’ and time to take up nutrients.

“In very crude terms, there are two sets of processes that need to go on in a cell,” says Gary Wittert, an endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the University of Adelaide.

“Cells need to take up nutrients and process them for energy to fuel the work that the cell needs to do. And then the other half of the day, which is night for us, is for growth and repair.”

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However, on the off chance that you eat late around evening time or very early on then your body’s cells may get befuddled and pass up the night procedure.

“If you can’t undergo proper growth and repair, if the damage to the cells that has accumulated in the metabolic processes are not being fixed up, then you’re more likely to get abnormalities,” says Professor Wittert.

“It doesn’t take much natural light to reset the clock,” Dr Young says.

“There’s an increase in metabolic and cardiac disease, as well as an increase in the risk of cancer, when there’s a mismatch between the central clock and the peripheral clock.”

Extra issues can happen if the check in your body’s cells are not in sync with the master clock in your brain, the one that is activated by daylight.

SHIFTING WORK SCHEDULE

Shift workers are at higher danger of malignant growth, putting away additional fat, and creating conditions like diabetes and coronary illness, says Professor Wittert.

And keeping in mind that it’s difficult to isolate out other illness chance elements shift workers are inclined to — for instance, eating processed food and being bound to drink or smoke — Dr Young says the body clock befuddle is certainly part of the issue.

“Many years ago it was assumed that shift workers would just realign perfectly to this night time existence. And it is not true. They end up in this dysfunctional circadian rhythm,” she says.

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“We’re now understanding a lot better that there’s a mismatch between central time versus the peripheral clock. And part of that’s driven by the eating.”

The body clock is also integral to the proper functioning of your heart and healthy blood pressure, Dr Young says.

“You start from the premise that shift workers are at risk. So in order to minimise risk, you need to optimise everything else other than the fact that the circadian rhythm is disrupted.”

Here are some ways that you can do to minimise risk when your body clock is disrupted:

  • Eat a healthy diet: “That’s mostly plants, small amounts of meat, fish and chicken. We should be avoiding processed foods.”
  • Eat at roughly the same time each day, regardless of what shift you’re on: “Clamp the eating at approximately similar times across the rhythm.” Professor Wittert recommends shift workers try to eat during daylight hours or early evening, regardless of what shift they’re on, with a healthy snack during the shift if necessary.
  • Exercise regularly: “It helps regulate mood and regulate every function of your body, so it’s going to make you more resilient to all of the stresses of shiftwork.”
  • Avoid alcohol: “Alcohol wrecks sleep. And if you’ve got an underlying sleep disorder like obstructive sleep apnoea, alcohol makes it worse.”

 

A version of this article was originally published on:
https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-06-28/health-body-clock-circadian-rhythm-explainer/12369442

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