Human bodies are time keeping machines whose regular function is synced with time. They keep their internal biological clock in pace with the day-light cycle of the earth for optimum performance, any disturbance in this clock synchronization results in bodily disturbances which may lead to severe health issues. If your biology tutor tells you that every cell of the human body is carrying its own internal biological clock than you shouldn’t be surprised at the research on the same biological clock has led to a Nobel Prize award to three scientists in the field of medicine.
Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael W. Young research work was acknowledged by the prize committee in the following words “With exquisite precision, our inner clock adapts our physiology to the dramatically different phases of the day; the clock regulates critical functions such as behavior, hormone levels, sleep, body temperature and metabolism.”
Circadian rhythm & Clock genes
The master biological clock of our bodies lies in our brain. It is a tiny bunch of specialized nerve cells located in the part of the brain known as Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN). This portion is responsible for keeping itself synced with the day-night cycle of the earth, and all other organs and cells refer to this clock for their operational sequence. This circadian rhythm of our body must be maintained for its proper operation and our good health. This master clock is responsible for keeping in sync the clock genes of other organs and cells; they are bound to function according to the cycle of the master clock.
It is essential to study the connection of our biological clock and our health as this study will enable us to know the cause-effect relationship and as a result, we can be in a better position to avoid the disturbances caused to this circadian rhythm. This rhythm is responsible for controlling the essential hormones secretion and their balance in the body which in turn regulates the function of crucial organs functionality.
The never-ending cycle
The relation of our biological clock and metabolism is already confirmed by scientific research. Any changes in biological clock cycle result in a disturbance in our hormones which occurs in disturbed appetite, blood pressure, and sugar. Any occasional disturbance such as working a night shift, day-light saving changes or a jet lag on a long duration flight is dealt by the body to recover in shortest time possible but if these disturbances are on a permanent basis than it is tough for our body to compensate and this results in metabolic health issues such as type-2 diabetes or an excessive weight gain.
It is still a debatable discussion that issues in metabolism cause disturbance in the biological clock or a disruption in circadian rhythm causes metabolic problems, but this cause and effect cycle continues to affect each other and the function of our bodies since ages. Melatonin is a hormone which is responsible for making our body fall asleep. As darkness increases production of melatonin also increases and with its concentration increasing, we tend to feel sleepier. People who work in night shifts tend to work against this natural sleep cycle which gradually disturbs their hormonal balance, and they tend to experience frequent health issues.
Our biological clock is highly responsible for controlling our body systems by controlling the release of various hormones and other compounds. Leptin is a hormone whose deficiency is linked to obesity and diabetes. Leptin release also follows the biological clock and people who are in the habit of working at nights and sleeping during daytime experience a disturbance in their biological clock as well as the in a level of Leptin in their bodies. These people tend to have a high risk of metabolic-related health issues such as obesity, type-2 diabetes, and metabolic syndrome.
Cortisol is a hormone which is related to stress; its level is reduced during the night and starts increasing in the morning. Studies show that heart attacks have a more chance of occurrence in the morning due to the rise in the cortisol levels. Specific compounds involved in the immune system inflammatory response tend to rise at night as the body tends to prepare its fight against the infections.
Some Tips to help keep the natural rhythm of the Biological clock
Best way to avoid the complex health issues linked to the disturbance of circadian rhythm is to follow the natural sleep pattern and prevent the routines which affect you’re eating and sleep cycles. It’s better to keep a strict sleep routine and stick to it at any cost, especially for elderly people. Sleep hygiene is vital as melatonin levels are also affected by age and keeping a healthy sleep cycle helps in a sound sleep and decreases the chances of sleep deprivation issues related to age.
Consumption of caffeine and alcohol at night should be avoided, and there should be at least a gap of 2 hours between dinner and bedtime to help keep the normal working of important body hormones. These precautions can be helpful in keeping the biological clock run in its natural rhythm and avoid any health issues caused due to its disturbance.