I’m sure you’re well aware that life is all about rhythms. From the rising and setting of the sun, to the change of the seasons, to the beating of your own heart.
These rhythms are wired into your very core before you’re even born.
There are several types of rhythms that can impact your health. These rhythms are defined by the length of their cycle and each one of them plays a different role in your daily life.
How Each Rhythm is Unique
Ultradian rhythms last less than twenty-four hours. Your heartbeat, digestive system, and the functions of your endocrine system – and its release of hormones – are all governed by ultradian rhythms.
Circadian rhythms are cycles that last approximately twenty-four hours. In fact, the word is actually from the Latin circa diem which is translated as about one day. The most well-known example of this type of rhythm is your sleep cycle.
Infradian rhythms are those that last for longer than a day. A good example of the infradian rhythm is the female menstrual cycle.
Your body clock has been controlled by these rhythms since your heart began beating while you were still inside your mother’s womb. This in itself is another rhythm. That of life itself.
Your Internal Rhythms vs. the Modern World
The human body clock has developed to its environment over time. Our circadian rhythms direct us to sleep when it gets dark and to awaken when the sun comes back up.
However, modern living and science has interfered with what was once a perfectly natural and balanced system.
Medications, artificial ingredients in the foods we eat, and pollutants in the environment can disrupt our ultradian rhythms causing countless medical problems and early-onset puberty.
The simple existence of electric lighting is enough to throw off your circadian rhythms.
Anyone who’s ever flown to a distant city can tell you about jet lag. That’s another example of your body’s clock natural rhythms trying to catch up.
Working evening or night shifts are hard on your body clock. Your body must not only fight against itself to stay awake during the night but also to sleep during the day when the sun is shining.
Birth control pills interrupt your body’s infradian rhythm cycle as well as introducing artificial estrogen into your body, sometimes at dangerously high levels.
What Can You Do When Everything Is Against You?
In simple language, it’s far better to work with your body than against it. Unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid processed foods and medicines entirely. We can’t all work jobs during the day. What can we do?
There’s an old saying: work smarter, not harder.
Farmer’s markets, your own garden, and knowledge of how to read food labels will give you better control of what goes into your body clock.
Taking medications only when necessary will also keep avoidable chemicals, and the fillers that come with them, from disrupting your body’s systems and throwing your ultradian rhythm off balance.
It’s possible now to purchase full spectrum light bulbs. Unlike old-fashioned incandescent lights, these bulbs actually emit the same full wavelengths of light as the sun.
If you have no choice about being awake at night, these can help readjust your body’s circadian rhythms. Another benefit of full spectrum lights is that they have been proven to help with depression, especially in the winter months.
If you must sleep during the day, try to make your bedroom as dark as possible. Keeping it cooler as well will naturally indicate to your body that it’s time to sleep. You might consider purchasing blackout curtains or a sleep mask.
The darker it is when you sleep, the more regular your rhythm will become.
The Importance of Rest
Lastly, take a break. Enjoy life. We’re not on this planet to work ourselves to death. One of the best things you can do to restore your body’s clock and natural rhythms is to take some time every day to simply relax.
Your life as a whole is one large infradian rhythm. A few minutes of downtime from our often-crushing workloads isn’t going to kill you.
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There’s a beautiful world outside of your office or workshop. I challenge you to find something new and wonderful about it every single day.