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Circadian Rhythm

What Is the Circadian Rhythm?

Often referred to as the "body clock," the circadian rhythm is the 24-hour cycle that tells our bodies when to sleep, rise, and eat—regulating many physiological processes. This internal body clock is affected by environmental cues, like sunlight and temperature, and determines whether one feels wide-awake and energized or tired and depleted at different times of the day. When circadian rhythms are disrupted, sleeping and eating patterns can run amok. A growing body of research is examining the adverse health effects of a disrupted circadian rhythm, like increasing the chances of cardiovascular events and obesity, and a correlation with neurological problems like depression and bipolar disorder.  A tribute to the importance of understanding the sleep-wake cycle, researchers Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young, who have studied the molecular mechanisms controlling circadian rhythm, were awarded the 2017 Nobel Prize in the category of physiology or medicine.

The Body's Internal Clock

Morning people are shiny and bright at the first hint of sunrise. At the opposite end, late show enthusiasts fire up well after the sun has set. What’s the science behind morning people owning the day and night owls embracing the dark, and why do their respective creative juices pour at designated times? While the daily grind favors the morning lark, the body has its own ideas about how it will embrace the day or night. Read these posts for tips on how night owls can manage their body clocks by, for instance, limiting artificial light in the wee hours.

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