What Is the Circadian Rhythm?

Often referred to as the "body clock", the circadian rhythm is a 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep and regulates many other 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 cardiovascualr events, obesity, and a correlation with neurological problems like depression and bipolar disorder.

Recent Posts on Circadian Rhythm

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.

Hit Snooze for Insight (Sleep in for Energy)

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.

Complicated Grief and the Inner Clock

By Michael Terman Ph.D. on August 11, 2015 in Chronotherapy
For some bereaved individuals, grief turns from an emotion into an illness that can last months or years—and causes neurological changes that can be detected on an MRI. Find out more about complicated grief and the effects it can have on your sleep and circadian rhythms.

Be Creative When You're Sleepy

By Temma Ehrenfeld on August 05, 2015 in Open Gently
Your creative times may be when you're a little groggy or drify.

Helicopter Parenting Isn’t Killing Millennials, but This Is

By Linda Esposito LCSW on August 02, 2015 in From Anxiety to Zen
Doing this could save your kid's sanity (and maybe even his life).

Changing Clocks Causes Cancer?

Time rules life. Does disrupting inner body clocks cause cancer?

Everyday Access to Nature Promotes Well-Being As We Age

A new study reports that spending time in natural environments promotes healthy aging and overall well-being.

The Secret Life of Melatonin

Melatonin is a commonly used over the counter sleep aid, but this hormone's effect on fertility and puberty are powerful and not fully understood in humans. Caution should be exercised before any chronic use or using melatonin in kids.

How Does Your Circadian Clock Keep Track of the Seasons?

Until now, the specific neurobiology of how our circadian clocks keep track of the seasons has been a mystery. Recently, researchers identified how circadian rhythms synchronize with the seasons. These findings could lead to new treatments for Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and insomnia.

The Best Defense Against Jet Lag? Ask the NBA

By Mark Travers Ph.D. on June 10, 2015 in Social Instincts
NBA teams may be getting better at mitigating players' jet lag.

Sleepless in the Summer

How to improve your sleep when the mercury rises

How Do Sleeplessness and Insomnia Sabotage Decision Making?

New research reveals how sleeplessness can thwart your ability to make astute decisions.

The Shot Clock and the Body Clock

By Alex Korb Ph.D. on March 27, 2015 in PreFrontal Nudity
During March Madness most people overlook important aspects of neuroscience that contribute to peak athletic performance.

The House of Cards Characters Have Terrible Sleep Hygiene

By Jordan Gaines Lewis on March 06, 2015 in Brain Babble
If Frank Underwood has trouble sleeping, it's not because of his conscience. Here's why the House of Cards characters have terrible sleep hygiene.

Why Do We Dream?

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on February 13, 2015 in Sleep Newzzz
Many scientists studying sleep and dreams believe that dreaming does have a purpose.

Our Dreaming World

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on January 02, 2015 in Sleep Newzzz
Despite sustained scientific exploration and attention—and no shortage of theories—we still don’t know the answer to the most fundamental question: Why do we dream?

When Our Bodies Lose Track of the Time

By John Cline Ph.D. on December 30, 2014 in Sleepless in America
Internal circadian rhythms stay synchronized with external clock time because environmental factors such as light and meals align the rhythm with the external clock. If these cues are unavailable the circadian rhythm will steadily shift over time. For totally blind individuals this can result in problems such as insomnia and daytime sleepiness.

Sleep, as We Get Older

By John Cline Ph.D. on December 29, 2014 in Sleepless in America
With advancing age there are changes in sleep pattern, sleep quantity and sleep quality. Sleep remains important for good health throughout our lives and understanding how these changes affect the sleep of older individuals can help people to maximize the quality and quantity of their sleep and thus their health.

Helping Your Kids (And You) Enjoy That Holiday Break

By Marcia Eckerd Ph.D. on December 23, 2014 in People Skills
Having kids home for holidays can be fun but also stressful. Here are tips for parents to make it easier and enjoyable for both kids and parents.

Why Sleep Deprivation Is Torture

Prolonged sleep deprivation is an especially insidious form of torture because it attacks the deep biological functions at the core of a person's mental and physical health. It is less overtly violent than cutting off someone's finger, but it can be far more damaging and painful if pushed to extremes.

Up and Away Part II: The Nitty Gritty of Jet Lag Management

By Michael Terman Ph.D. on December 11, 2014 in Chronotherapy
Jet lag can ruin a vacation or business trip. Some travelers are more vulnerable than others. Major factors are east/west direction and number of time zones crossed. In Part I, Dr. Oren pointed to circadian rhythms disrupted by the sudden shift in the light-dark cycle. Here he points also to activity and rest patterns, and offers a program to minimize ill effects.

Had a Concussion? 11 Tips to Get You Through the Holidays

Have you or someone you love recently been in a car accident? Slipped on ice? Bumped their head? Without realizing it, you may have suffered a concussion, and may be living with symptoms of Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) - chronic headache, fatigue, trouble sleeping, feeling agitated, etc. Learn how to help better deal with these symptoms as the holidays approach.

Up & Away: Jet Lag Upset, Ugh! Jet Lag Solution, Whew!

By Michael Terman Ph.D. on November 29, 2014 in Chronotherapy
Flying away may be your fantasy: the excitement of a fresh environment, relief from stress, the escape from bad weather and the blues. Or you just have to travel for work, and would rather be home. The challenge either way is jet lag, with disrupted sleep and concentration, and physical distress. The brain's inner clock holds the explanation, and is key to the solution.

Oops! New Ways To Make Mistakes

Do you want machines to rule your life?

Seasonal Affective Disorder: Tips to Overcome the Disorder

The first way to get ready for the holiday season is to check out your mood today.

Does Cancer Grow More Aggressively at Night?

By Michael J Breus Ph.D. on October 23, 2014 in Sleep Newzzz
Researchers have found evidence that some cancers may grow more quickly during nighttime resting hours than during the waking day.

Three Essential Parenting Sleep Tips

Sleep is critical for children's health and performance in school. But many parents let their ideas about what's best for children shape their kid's sleep, when the science of sleep points in very different directions. Embracing light exposure, reducing sleep-related anxiety and letting kids sleep as much as they need can make a huge difference for the whole family.

How Do We Learn Best?

What are the most important things to learn? How do we learn them?

Training A Seven-Month-Old To Sleep

By Dennis Rosen M.D. on October 14, 2014 in Sleeping Angels
"My 6.5-month-old son is not sleeping normally. What form of sleep training is suitable for my son?"

9 Lifestyle Factors That Can Affect Your Mental Health

Sound mental health requires much more than one simple intervention. A series of environmental and lifestyle factors play an important role too. Read on to learn more.