Circadian rhythms of sleep: what is it and why is it so important to understand them

Without quality sleep, a person loses a normal life. But often our ideas about what a truly high-quality sleep is very far from reality. Do you know what the circadian rhythm is, and why it is extremely important to observe it? We offer to sort it out together with an expert.

Without sleep and rest
Is it possible to overestimate the role of sleep in our lives? Its lack leads to rapid fatigue and imminent stress. We get an increased level of cortisol, and this, in turn, leads to disruptions of metabolic processes and the appearance of excess weight. No wonder endocrinologists are always interested in patients suffering from fullness, their sleep regime.

Lack of sleep is a key factor determining whether you are at risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Even a moderate lack of quality sleep during the week disrupts blood sugar levels so much that a person can be diagnosed with prediabetes. Constant lack of sleep increases the likelihood of blockage and thinning of the coronary arteries, which leads to cardiovascular failure.

Perhaps these examples are enough to understand that it is simply impossible to overestimate the role of quality sleep in our lives.

What are biorhythms?
Our sleep is regulated by two mechanisms: circadian rhythm and homeostatic. These are the very biorhythms that are being talked about so much today. If we explain it as simply as possible, then the circadian rhythm is our dependence on sunrise and sunset. The sun has risen — we are awake, it has set — we are resting. Homeostatic is a mechanism that is associated with fatigue. When we are very tired, we will still fall asleep, regardless of the circadian rhythm.

In order for sleep to be of better quality, it is important to take into account both these mechanisms — fatigue and circadian rhythm. If, for example, you worked all night and fell asleep in the morning just from fatigue, the homeostatic rhythm works, and the circadian rhythm is ignored. This is bad, because it is night sleep that is of the highest quality. Plus, if we rely only on the homeostatic rhythm, the body will simply «pass out» at the most inopportune moments. It will be falling asleep in a state of stress, which, of course, is absolutely not useful for the body.

Circadian rhythms are cyclic fluctuations in the intensity of various biological processes associated with the change of day and night. Our working capacity, the levels of almost all major hormones, diseases, etc. depend on the time of day.

To understand whether your activity is synchronized with the circadian rhythm, we suggest taking a look at the key points of a typical 24-hour cycle.

Circadian rhythms of sleep: what is it and why is it so important to understand them

04:00 — 06:00. To wake up the brain and body, cortisol is actively produced.

06:00 — 08.00. There is a sharp jump in blood pressure.

08:00 — 09.00. The intestine is included in the work.

10:00 — 14.00. This is the time of active brain activity — attention and concentration.

14:00 — 16.00. The best time for muscle work.

16:00 — 18.00. Peak increase in blood pressure.

18:00 — 20:00. The highest body temperature.

20:00 — 22:00. Melatonin production begins.

22:00 — 02:00. Deep sleep.

02:00 — 04.00. The lowest body temperature.

Alarming signs of circadian rhythm disorders:
You suffer from insomnia at night.

During the day, you constantly experience drowsiness.

It became difficult to concentrate on work.

You are nervous about nothing, you snap at your loved ones.

Tormented by headaches.

Sleep «according to science»
It is optimal for an adult to sleep at night, the ideal sleep duration is 8-9 hours. It is better to go to bed before 00.00 hours. The diagram above shows that it is at this time (from 22:00 to 02:00) that the body plunges into the phases of slow (deep) sleep, which is necessary for the recovery of the body. In this cycle, the pituitary gland releases growth hormone, the process of tissue regeneration is underway. We can say that this is a phase «for the health of the body».

There is another phase of sleep — fast. Now the attention is switched to the brain. He begins to reorganize the information: the events of the past 24 hours are analyzed, everything unnecessary is forgotten, and the necessary is structured. It is in this phase that we dream. Fast sleep is responsible for the recovery and development of our nervous system. These phases dominate closer to dawn. From all of the above, it follows that in order for the body to fully recover, it is important to take into account not only the duration of sleep, but also the possibility of fully going through all phases.

Is it possible to sleep during the day? In the interval from 13.00 to 14.00, we often experience drowsiness. There’s nothing wrong with letting yourself take a nap. By the way, scientists have proved that only 10-30 minutes of daytime sleep is enough for an adult to recover. However, it is necessary to sleep during this period of time. Sleeping after 15.00 can complicate falling asleep at night and cause insomnia.

Circadian rhythms of sleep: what is it and why is it so important to understand them

How to improve the quality of sleep
There are a number of measures of CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and for adults. Traditional methods prescribe to reduce the consumption of caffeine and alcohol, remove electronic screen devices from the bedroom and maintain a cool temperature in it. In addition, a person must:

Adjust the sleep and wake-up mode, observing it even on weekends. By the way, with the advent of children, it becomes much easier.

Go to bed when you feel sleepy, and try not to nap on the couch in the evenings.

Never lie awake in bed for a long time. It’s better to get up and do something calm and relaxing until the desire to sleep returns.

Give up daytime sleep if you have difficulty falling asleep at night.

Avoid thoughts that arouse anxiety and anxiety by learning to relax before going to bed.

Remove the watch faces in the bedroom from view, so as not to look at them anxiously at night.

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