What Is the Circadian Rhythm?

Often referred to as the "body clock", the circadian rhythm is a cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, eat--regulating many physiological processes. This internal body clock is affected by environmental cues, like sunlight and temperature. When one's circadian rhythm is disrupted, sleeping and eating patterns can run amok. A growing body of research is examining the adverse health effects a disrupted circadian rhythm can have, like increasing the chances of cardiovascular events, obesity, and a correlation with neurological problems like depression and bipolar disorder.

Recent posts on Circadian Rhythm

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Let the Kids Sleep, Part II

Why is sleep so important?

Are You a Morning or an Evening Person?

By Romeo Vitelli Ph.D. on March 09, 2017 in Media Spotlight
While circadian preferences can change over the course of our lifespan, it is important to recognise how important morningness and eveningness can be in how we think and behave.

Why It's So Hard to Resist Late-Night Eating

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on February 23, 2017 in Think, Act, Be
If you've struggled to limit your eating after dinner, you're not alone. Find out why the drive to keep eating can be so strong—and ways to rein it in.

Sleep Disturbances Have Many Causes

Is chronic insomnia wearing you down? Learning about different kinds of sleep problems and their causes may help you find a more effective treatment.

Are Your Circadian Rhythms Out of Whack? Try Pitching a Tent

By Christopher Bergland on February 02, 2017 in The Athlete's Way
Spending the weekend on a camping trip with minimal artificial light exposure and an abundance of natural light can reset your internal circadian clock, according to a new study.

Do You Have the Winter Blues?

Do you know this difference between seasonal affective disorder and major depression and how you can feel better?
Quick and Dirty Tips

5 Myths About Insomnia to Help You Sleep Tonight

Can't sleep? Groggy mornings? Get back on track with 5 myth-busting tips that will help you get your best night's sleep.

A Cheap New Wonder Drug?

By Eric Haseltine Ph.D. on January 13, 2017 in Long Fuse, Big Bang
A one-time purchase might improve your health for life.
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5 Essential Strategies for Insomnia

Insomnia and mania will both respond to these natural solutions.

Your Brain on Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings transitions can affect our delicate circadian clocks, leading to disruptions in behavior and mood.

How Aging Affects Our Sleep

What can we do to sleep well?
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Secrets of Napping

By John Cline Ph.D. on September 27, 2016 in Sleepless in America
Naps can improve alertness and productivity without needing to use energy drinks to get through the day. Proper timing and correct duration are the secrets to successful napping.

There’s a Best Time to Talk to Your Therapist

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on September 13, 2016 in Sleep Newzzz
The body’s bio rhythms regulate much of how we feel and what we do.

Helping College Students Manage Sleep Issues

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on September 06, 2016 in Think, Act, Be
If you're heading back to college this fall, it's worth focusing on getting adequate sleep.

Muscle Memory—It’s in Your Head, Not Your Limbs

Don’t believe promises of “accelerated learning.” Four proven practices can boost retention and give you peace of mind instead.

Why You’re More Tired Flying East Than West

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on August 04, 2016 in Sleep Newzzz
When it comes to jet lag, it’s not only the distance, but also the direction that matters.
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When You Can't Sleep

Insufficient sleep afflicts more and more of us - but there are better ways to fix it.

Too Much Artificial Light Exposure Can Make You Sick

New research shows that the last century of artificial light pollution is an environmental hazard that is causing our circadian rhythms to go haywire.

How Much Sleep Is Required for Optimal Health? Age Matters.

For the first time, sleep experts have reached a consensus on how much sleep is required to optimize psychological and physical well-being at various stages of the human lifespan.

The Illuminating Tale of Sunlight's Impact on Health

Research shows our genes are programmed to respond to exposure to full spectrum light, which we now know to be a critical factor in how healthy we are. But are we getting enough?

Arianna Huffington's Sleep Revolution

Arianna Huffington's new book "The sleep revolution" effectively lays out the public health consequences of sleep loss and then points to a way forward to address this crisis

You Snooze, You Win

By Darby Saxbe Ph.D. on May 13, 2016 in Home Base
What if you could dramatically improve kids' learning, mental health, and safety by making one small tweak to their schedules? Turns out school start times make a big difference.

Designing Your View

It's time to manage your garden--use cognitive science to fine tune your plans.
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What Can You Do When You're Too Tired, Too Early?

By John Cline Ph.D. on March 31, 2016 in Sleepless in America
We hear about students who can't get to sleep at a regular time, get up early, and doze off in class. But others have the opposite problem and that can be just challenging.

The Health Dangers of Daylight Saving Time

By Mark Borigini M.D. on March 12, 2016 in Overcoming Pain
Actually, this is not so surprising: prior studies have shown that disruptions in an individual’s internal body clock increase the risk of cardiovascular events.
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Is Sleep Loss Like Marijuana?

What exactly makes me hungry?

Lag Blues and Substance Use

By Margy Fetting Ph.D. on March 03, 2016 in Healing our Habits
Do you suffer with jet lag, car and bus lag, or train lag, and find yourself self-medicating with the overuse of alcohol, drugs, food, or smartphones?
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Getting Back to Sleep

Getting back to sleep and going to sleep have a lot in common.

How to Get the Most out of Your Daily Coffee (and Caffeine)

By Linda Wasmer Andrews on February 26, 2016 in Minding the Body
You can get the mental perks of coffee without overdoing the caffeine. The key is carefully choosing when to drink it.