Biological Clock: How It Works and Affects Your Health

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The body’s biological clock is a mechanism for the daily work schedule of your body organs. It is also known as the circadian rhythm; the natural cycle of physical, mental, and behavioral changes that your body goes through in a 24-hour cycle. 

The human body’s biological clock works 24 hours. Like a cycle, it signals your sleep/wake pattern, your feeding pattern, and other important biological processes.  

A disrupted body clock may affect your overall health. 

Consultation with a General Practitioner or Specialist Doctor

For more comprehensive information regarding your body clock, you can consult a general practitioner.

However, if you are deal with sleeping problems or insomnia, you can also consult a psychologist or psychotherapist.

How Your Body’s Biological Clock Works 

Here’s how a human body clock works: 

00.00 – 02.59

During this period, you will start to feel tired and have a strong urge to rest. Your body reacts this way because there is an increase in hormone (melatonin) production – which triggers your tiredness and sleepiness.

In addition, your brain cleans itself from the substances that flow throughout the day as a result of “thinking” and “doing” activities. Your brain also processes and stores any information or memories in different regions; short and long term memory. Your intestines also detoxify themselves – thus, you are advised to avoid eating and drinking during this time. 

03.00 – 05.59

Your body still continues to produce melatonin around this time, even though the production is not as much towards the morning. Before this, your energy is used to maintain your body temperature. But this time period is when your energy is diverted to repairing your skin or fighting infection. Thus, your body temperature will reach its lowest point during this period. 

06.00 – 08.59 

During this period, melatonin production has completely stopped. However, the blood vessels tend to become stiffer and thicker. This may also indicate a high blood pressure condition.  

If you have a heart disease, it is advisable to avoid exercising at this time, as there could be a risk of heart attack.

09.00 – 11.59

This is the best time for you to engage in any activity, whether it is working or studying. Your body is intensively producing the cortisol hormone.

The function of the cortisol hormone is to maintain normal blood pressure, control blood sugar levels, and control stress. The hormone also provides energy for your body so you do not feel sleepy anymore. 

12.00 – 14.59

This time period is often referred to as the “critical work hours” – as you tend to feel sleepy around this time. This is because your digestive organs are working to process the food after you have had lunch.

It is not recommended that you drive or operate heavy machinery around this time. 

15.00 – 17.59

Your lungs and heart are working most optimally around this time. Your body temperature will naturally increase, which can be helpful if you need to warm up before exercising.

In the afternoon, your muscles are at their strongest. Hence, afternoon workouts are highly recommended. 

18.00 – 20.59

This is when your digestive system is not working as optimally as during the day. Therefore, it is not recommended for you to eat in large portions. Your liver also cleans the blood from harmful toxins and produces protein required by your body. 

21.00 – 23.59

Ideally, this is when your brain produces the melatonin hormone, or the sleep-inducing hormone – only if you wake up early in the morning.

If you often stay up late and get up late in the morning, the melatonin hormone will be produced at a later time. Around this time, you are advised to relax and get ready for bed.

How Your Biological Clock Affects Your Overall Health

Ignoring your body’s biological clock can lead to decreased cognitive abilities, such as memory and concentration abilities.

Health problems such as insomnia, obesity, diabetes may arise if you ignore your biological clock. In fact, a study conducted by the UK Biobank states that a disrupted biological clock could have an impact on one’s mental health.

One of the mild indications of a mental disorder due to a damaged biological clock is extreme mood swings. 

Moreover, a disrupted biological clock will also run the risk of decreased stamina. This is because your immune system does not produce the amount of protein required.

The damage to the body’s biological clock can have an impact on your health and cause various physical and mental health problems.  Thus, it is best if you do not ignore your biological clock schedule – it can be as simple as maintaining  a proper sleeping pattern. 

Your body always releases signals such as yawning when you are sleepy, your body aching when you are tired, and so on. By paying attention to the signals, you will learn what your body actually needs.

Factors Affecting Biological Clock

Here are several factors that may interfere with your natural body clock: 

Irregular sleep schedule 

Living in an urban society, your sleeping hours are usually adjusted to your busy life. The formula is this: you sleep late and wake up early on weekdays, then sleep all day and wake up in the middle of the day on weekends. With all the hustle and bustle of your daily life, this sleep cycle formula might be the easiest to live up to. However, it is important to note that irregular sleep cycles can disrupt your biological clock.

Sleep with the lights on 

The biological clock is set based on surrounding light. Your body would interpret a brightly lit room as a marker for daylight and vice versa. Therefore, sleeping with the light on may fool the biological clock.

When you turn on the light while you are sleeping, it may interfere with the production of melatonin, a sleep-inducing hormone – which eventually leads to a poor quality of sleep. Continuous exposure to light throughout the night may also have an impact on your hormones, where in the long run, might lead to depression and even cancer.

Long flights

If you often travel by airplane for long trips, it may also affect the biological clock – especially if the destination has a different time zone from your origin country. You will find it difficult to sleep at night and will be sleepy during the day. This condition is known as jet lag.

Jet lag refers to when your body is unable to immediately adapt to sudden changes in your circadian rhythm. The sudden changes can lead to the body clock disruption.

Regular caffeine consumption at night 

Apart from the benefits of caffeine to your body, which includes keeping you awake – caffeine is not ideal to be consumed at night. Studies show that frequent consumption of caffeine a few hours before your regular sleep schedule may delay the timing of your body clock by up to 30 minutes. Therefore, it is not recommended to supply your body with caffeine intake at night.

Irregular Work Scheduling

Some jobs require working shifts. Shift work requires workers to be active at uncertain times and have different schedules. This type of work can lead to irregular eating patterns and sleep cycles that can damage the body’s biological clock.

How to Reset Your Biological Clock 

You need not worry if you have a irregular biological clock.

To reset your biological clock, you can go to bed early and wake up earlier the next day. Some people may find it difficult to sleep early, especially if they are used to sleeping late at night.

Here are some tips for getting into the habit of going to bed early:

Reduce nightly routine activities 

When your brain is working non-stop, it causes you to stay awake and be alert. You should stay away from activities that preoccupy your mind when you are approaching your bedtime. This will help your body relax and fall asleep more easily.

Exercise at night 

Exercise burns off a lot of energy and will make you feel tired. When you are tired, it is easier for you to fall asleep. Hence, it is advised that you start working out around four hours before bedtime.

Put down your digital devices

Televisions, laptops, cell phones, and other digital devices emit blue light. This blue light can cause sleep disturbances and interfere with your biological clock. It is best if you sleep early and limit the use of digital devices, especially at night.

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