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How to set the biological clock for the ideal daily routine?


How to set the biological clock for the ideal daily routine?

The term "biological clock" is used in different contexts. But it is always understood that a limited time is allotted for the performance of a certain function of the body. This also applies to the sleep-wake cycle. A person does not just go to bed in the evening, but wakes up in the morning. Circadian rhythms are responsible for this. From this material you will learn what it is, whether it is possible to take control of this mechanism.

Circadian rhythm - what is it?

In 2017, American physiologists received the Nobel Prize for their contributions to the study of mechanisms called circadian rhythms. These are biological rhythms associated with the change of day and night.
Scientists have found that there is a gene that controls daily changes in the body:
• sleep and wakefulness;
• production of hormones;
• speed of metabolic processes;
• reactions to stress.

This gene encodes a protein that accumulates in cells at night. When the sun rises, the substance begins to be consumed. A person wakes up, and the internal processes in his body are accelerated.
Simply put, the circadian rhythm is a mechanism that is based on the body's biological clock. It reflects the cyclic fluctuations that occur during the day.

How does it work?

There is an outer cycle of 24 hours: it is due to the rotation of the Earth around the Sun. The biorhythm of every living being adjusts to it. In humans, it is close to 24 hours (±15 minutes).

The body builds an ideal daily regimen on its own, adjusting to the change of day and night:
• at 6:30 there is a sharp jump in blood pressure;
• at 7:30 the production of melatonin (sleep hormone) stops;
• at 8:30 intestinal peristalsis is activated;
• at 9:00 reaches a maximum concentration of testosterone;
• at 10:00 vigilance is increased;
• at 14:30 the best coordination of movements is achieved;
• at 15:30 a person has the fastest reactions;
• at 17:00 the cardiovascular system works best;
• at 18:30 there is the highest pressure;
• at 19:00 the body temperature reaches its maximum;
• at 21:00 melatonin begins to be produced;
• at 22:30 intestinal peristalsis is suppressed.

Thus, the body itself dictates when we need to wake up and go to bed, go to the toilet, exercise, start intellectual work. Taking into account this routine affects the state of health.

The impact of circadian rhythms on health

The study of the human circadian rhythm made it possible to understand the importance of timely awakening and going to bed. He explains why you should not set your alarm before 7:30, because the body needs time to prepare to exit the sleep state. The daily biorhythm also causes the harm of a nocturnal lifestyle, shift work, in which the endocrine and nervous systems are literally confused in the schedule.

Compliance with the cycle set by the internal clock allows you to :
• normalize metabolic processes;
• prevent digestive disorders;
• take control of hormones;
• achieve maximum efficiency at work;
• enjoy physical activity.

Knowledge of biological rhythms suggests how to lead a healthy lifestyle and not experience stress from it. When the body receives what it needs in time, it is less susceptible to all kinds of diseases.

Circadian rhythm disorder

Sometimes there is a desynchronization of the internal rhythms of a person and the external cycle "day - night". They are mainly studied by neurologists in the context of disturbed sleep and wakefulness.

Several types are considered:
•    Jetlag. Due to a sharp movement between time zones (two or more), vegetative disorders appear (weakness, headache, disorientation, nausea).
•    Sleep disturbance during shift work . Due to a failure in the production of melatonin, insomnia occurs, the level of stress increases, and depression may develop.
•    Disorder of sleep phases. Due to desynchronization, sleep comes late, respectively, and awakening is delayed. Some, on the contrary, fall asleep too early.

All this affects health. The body is forced to sharply adjust the natural processes to the current regime. As a result, his life activity does not proceed as laid down by nature.

Health implications

Sleep must be timely. This time is not dictated by the family, class schedule, work schedule or personal preferences, but by biorhythms.
The most obvious consequence of ignoring them is drowsiness during the day, up to the development of narcolepsy (short-term falling asleep on the go). This entails a decrease in concentration, which is fraught with a deterioration in performance and the creation of emergency situations.
If the daily routine is not respected, a person cannot fully relax.

The constant stay of the body in a state of fatigue in the long term is fraught with:
• cardiovascular diseases;
• hormonal failures;
• metabolic disorders;
• weakening of the immune system;
• mental disorders;
• oncological processes.

The risk of autoimmune diseases also increases. Working at night, when you need to sleep, the body enters into an internal confrontation with itself. And in any case, it will look for ways to stop it.

How to adjust the circadian rhythm?

Normal daily biorhythms are widely known. If it turns out that the usual daily routine conflicts with them, the “clockwork” can be “repaired”. The "tool" will be daylight - the basis for the formation of a 24-hour cycle.

The main rule : the less light, the more melatonin. Therefore, in the morning you need to immediately open all the curtains, and if it is dark outside, turn on the lamps. Closer to the night, on the contrary, the amount of light should be minimized.

It turned out that photosensitive retinal ganglion cells are responsible for the desire to sleep. It is they who record sunrise and sunset in order to transmit signals to the brain and start or stop the process of melatonin production. Therefore, our internal biorhythms depend on the contemplation of light.

How to deal with jetlag?

Studies have shown that moving to the west is easier than moving to the east. The reason is that in the first case, sleep and awakening are transferred to a later time, and in the second - to an earlier time.

Long-distance flights do not occur often enough to cause significant pathologies. Therefore, the task of the traveler is to prevent the occurrence of symptoms that impair the quality of life.

To do this, it is recommended:
• to begin a gradual shift in the sleep cycle a few days before the trip, so that the changes are not so abrupt;
• get as much sunlight as possible on the first morning in a new place;
• before going to bed ensure complete darkness (no gadgets, nightlights).

If going to sleep is too difficult, short-acting sleeping pills may be used. It is better to entrust the choice of the drug to the doctor.

How to normalize sleep during shift work?

In people who are forced to periodically work at night, daily biorhythms go astray. Every day they change the regime of the day, and the body barely has time to rebuild from one cycle to another.

To normalize internal processes, neurologists recommend:
• turn on the light during wakefulness;
• provide complete darkness during sleep;
• put on sunglasses a few hours before the expected falling asleep to gradually reduce the production of melatonin;
• use ear plugs and blackout masks while you sleep.

The social component of setting the biological clock is especially important. Households should be aware that the health of a night worker is at risk, and not interfere with the creation of comfortable lighting conditions for him.

Who gets sleep disturbances?

To answer this question, it is necessary to separate people with true sleep phase disorders from the owners of certain chronotypes.

There are only three of them:
• Morning (larks). The biological clock is shifted about three hours ago.
• Asynchronous. The biological clock corresponds to the normal circadian rhythm.
• Evening (owls). The biological clock is shifted about three hours ahead.

Owls and larks are not victims of bad habits. It’s just that in the former, the PER3 gene responsible for circadian rhythms is shortened, while in the latter it is lengthened.
Phase displacement syndrome affects people with an asynchronous chronotype. If their daily routine desynchronizes with the normal circadian rhythm, sleep disorders and accompanying unpleasant symptoms begin. In larks, such phenomena are rarely observed, in owls they are excluded in principle.

How to deal with disturbed sleep phases?

A person with an asynchronous chronotype can eliminate such a disorder by correcting the daily routine and light therapy. The specific steps depend on the desired shift direction.

  • The problem is a long falling asleep, the solution  is early awakening + light therapy in the daytime.
  • The problem   is early awakening, the solution is light therapy in the evening.
  • The problem is a shift in sleep phases, the solution  is a proportional delay in sleep and awakening until normalization.

If these measures do not help, it is possible to take exogenous melatonin, a synthetic hormone (endogenous is produced by the body itself). It allows you to adjust the time of the onset of biological night - a period of slowing down physiological processes and going to bed. 
Preparations based on this active substance (for example, Melaxen , Melarithm ) are hypnotics, they regulate neuroendocrine functions. Therefore, they can be taken only under the supervision of a doctor.

What should larks and owls do?

Features of the circadian rhythms of people with morning and evening chronotypes are genetically determined, and not pathologically. There are not so many pure larks and owls in nature - 15 and 20% of the total population of the planet.

Constructive solutions for them can be:
• change of residence (owls are more comfortable in the west, larks in the east);
• optimization of the sleep and rest regime based on hours of maximum productivity (for larks - before 12:00, for owls - after 16:00);
• distribution of types of activity in accordance with the characteristics of the chronotype (in the morning, auditory sensitivity is maximum from 7 am to 1 pm, in the evening - from 7 pm to 1 am).

It is pointless to treat such people: they are not sick. Forcing them to live according to the standard circadian rhythm is dangerous. This is tantamount to the constant forcible knocking out of an ordinary person from a standard biorhythm. 

There is no need for sleeping pills here - they will only harm. It is also better to refrain from excessive consumption of coffee: the owners of non-standard chronotypes are more prone to addiction.