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What is Our Circadian Rhythm

What is the circadian rhythm?

Since the dawn of our ancestors, the human body has been designed to react to its surrounding environment. Whether the sun rose or set determined when our ancestors were hunting and gathering or resting. However, in our modern world, it is easier to ignore our body’s natural rhythm. We work in buildings with no natural light, then go home and keep the artificial lights on until we are ready to sleep. Scientists are beginning to warn that this can actually be the root of many health problems.

Many living organisms are actually driven by the same type of biological clocks. From fruit flies to plants and human cells, the timing of activities is governed by a regular cycle. However, the clock that affects us the most regularly is the sleep/wake cycle, also known as circadian rhythm. 

The University of Oxford has a quick video explaining the basics of the circadian rhythm here: What Makes You Tick: Circadian Rhythms

Circadian Rhythm is governed by when light enters the retina, and signals  the brain to generate serotonin. Serotonin is a chemical in the brain that is released to help prepare the body for an active state. It helps regulate mood, digestion, mental clarity, etc. However, like most things, too much serotonin can lead to restlessness, headaches, high blood pressure, and other negative side effects.

On the opposite side of the clock, when there is no light entering the retina, then the brain signals for melatonin to be produced. Melatonin helps the body prepare for sleep. Producing melatonin will help the body recover from jet lag, avoid insomnia, and help regulate other sleep-related disorders. 

serotonin and melatonin

The National Institute of General Medical Sciences has encouraged research on the circadian rhythm. Incidentally, three scientists recently won the nobel prize for their circadian rhythm research while funded by the NIGMS. Circadian Rhythms

How can we synchronize our schedules?

The CDC has published guidelines that support healthy sleep patterns which are especially helpful if you are unable to practice quality sleep hygiene. Often, this can be a result of working a night shift or long hours. This is especially important for emergency responders and other medical workers during the global pandemic. Circadian Rhythms and Circadian Clock | NIOSH

Eliminating blue light in your surroundings before bed is the simplest way to improve your sleep cycle. Blue light sends signals to the brain to produce serotonin which will keep your body awake. Using red light instead of blue will help regulate melatonin levels & encourage your body to prep for sleep. According to the Sleep Foundation, “Light is the strongest cue for training your circadian rhythm.” Additionally, preliminary studies are suggesting that powerful red light therapy can actually help increase melatonin levels

A quick 15-minute session in the Prism Light Pod 3-4 times per week can help synchronize your circadian rhythm. In addition, Prism Light Pod red light therapy can support healing throughout the  entire body after working out or suffering from an injury or surgery. You can improve sleep quality, recover from jet lag faster, and fight against insomnia.

Contact us to learn more about how our whole-body photobiomodulation system can help increase quality of sleep for you!

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