The importance of knowing your biological clock
Synchronising your daily habits with your circadian rhythm will help you to reach and maintain your optimal state of health and well-being over time.
Unlike some nocturnal animals, like owls, owls, bats, moths and fireflies, humans go to sleep when it gets dark and wake up when the sun rises. This is because there are different circadian rhythms, which are the biological changes that follow a 24-hour cycle, and which control the sleep-wake cycle.
As Vicente Mera, head of the Genomic Medicine and Healthy Ageing Unit and specialist in Sleep Medicine at SHA Wellness Clinic, explains, “all circadian phenomena are controlled by what’s referred to as the biological clock. In mammals, the main clock is made up of neuronal groups located in the hypothalamus, specifically in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, and it is partly controlled by a group of genes, called clock genes, which are responsible for setting and maintaining circadian rhythms. But there is also circadian activity in non-nerve cells located in different organs and tissues, such as the liver, lungs, spleen, thymus, adrenal glands, pancreas, blood cells and skin”.
It is precisely this internal biological clock that tells the body which functions and activities to perform during the day and which at night. As Vicente tells us, “at night, the production of melatonin (the hormone that controls the sleep cycle) and growth hormone increases, the body temperature drops, regenerative and anabolic processes occur, and hypopnoea and respiratory apnoea may appear. In contrast, during the day, catabolism and defence processes, exocrine gland secretion, muscle contraction and tone occur”.
When the circadian rhythm is disturbed, sleep disorders such as insomnia, restless leg syndrome or frequent awakenings can crop up, and the risk of developing certain conditions and diseases such as hypertension, obesity, overweight, type 2 diabetes, anxiety, depression and cardiovascular issues increases. Therefore, the best thing you can do to enjoy an optimal state of health and well-being is to synchronise your lifestyle with your circadian rhythm.