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

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.
Joshua/unsplash.com/pexels.com

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.
woman smoking marijuana ashton/flickr.com

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?
man and baby asleep/pexels.com/pixabay.com

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.

Were the Timekeepers of the Ancient World Autistic?

By John Elder Robison on February 13, 2016 in My Life With Asperger's
Were the ancient calendars a product of early autistic thinkers? If so, is that one more example of their place in the early churches, guiding humanity?

Interminable Terminal Insomnia

By Michael Terman Ph.D. on January 08, 2016 in Chronotherapy
How does a clinical social worker proficient in sleep hygiene cope with persistent terminal insomnia? Abigail details her struggle with her least favorite symptom of SAD.

Exercise Improves Sleep, but Maybe Not How You Think

By Seth J. Gillihan Ph.D. on January 05, 2016 in Think, Act, Be
Aerobic exercise helps sleep, but not always in the way we expect it to.

Light Therapy Can Help Treat Depression Year-Round

By Christopher Bergland on November 19, 2015 in The Athlete's Way
A new study reports that bright light therapy can help treat both seasonal and nonseasonal depression.

Sleeping In

By Sara Villanueva Ph.D. on November 03, 2015 in How to Parent a Teen
Having a hard time getting your Teen up in the mornings? Read on, and get some tips on how to wake your cranky teen.

A Curious Case of Depression

By Victoria L. Dunckley M.D. on October 29, 2015 in Mental Wealth
A young adult male comes in reporting weight loss, fatigue, shortness of breath, difficulty concentrating, and depression so severe he's requesting "shock therapy." Where does one begin with such difficult cases?

10 Signs of Seasonal Depression (and 6 Ways to Fight It)

By Guy Winch Ph.D. on October 26, 2015 in The Squeaky Wheel
When the days get shorter, the sun shines lower in the sky and the weather gets colder people often experience a drop in mood. Sometimes the drop is really big. Here's what you need to know:

Running On Empty?

When you find yourself feeling exhausted, you are in a state of deprivation, temporarily unable to replenish yourself. This means that the natural balance of give and take, which characterizes healthy living, is disturbed. The question is how to open yourself up again and, quite literally, change your mind.

Everything New Under the Sun

By Robert J King Ph.D. on October 09, 2015 in Hive Mind
Time, identity, and immortality

Circadian Rhythm, Light and PTSD

By Leslie E. Korn Ph.D. on September 26, 2015 in Rhythms of Recovery
PTSD, chronic pain (fibromyalgia), and sleep problems are all characterized by circadian rhythm imbalance. In order to understand more fully the disruption of rhythm and time perception caused by trauma, it is useful to explore the role of circadian rhythm, light, and the pineal gland.

Five Weird Facts About the Brain You Didn't Know

By Eric Haseltine Ph.D. on September 21, 2015 in Long Fuse, Big Bang
Discover shock and awe inside your own skull

Colors of Light and Life

What color is the light you're using to read this? Your answer matters. A lot.

When Is the Best Time to Give Birth?

By Robert D. Martin Ph.D. on September 14, 2015 in How We Do It
Medical intervention in human birth is now so widespread in industrialized countries that deliveries are seldom spontaneous. Yet with no intervention there is clear persistence of a general mammalian 24-hour biorhythm in birth hour. Is this just a carryover from ancestors that gave birth during their inactive period, or is that basic rhythm still biologically important?

How to Balance Rhythms to Enhance Trauma Treatment

By Leslie E. Korn Ph.D. on August 18, 2015 in Rhythms of Recovery
The major rhythmic disruption in PTSD and complex trauma is circadian rhythm; the 24 hr. sleep/wake cycle that follows the dark/light cycle of the sun’s rising and setting.

Whether to Wake Up or Snooze, and Why It Matters So Much

By Garth Sundem on August 18, 2015 in Brain Trust
To snooze or not to snooze? The answer can determine whether you start the day with energy or insight.