The Circadian Rhythm: What is it, and why is matters

Have you ever wondered why most living things need to sleep at night? How is it that our bodies are synchronized with the 24 hour daylight cycle?

The Circadian Rhythm is comprised of the physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. Circadian rhythms are found in most organisms, including animals, plants, and even microbes.
Natural factors within the body produce circadian rhythms, however, environmental factors also contribute. The most important cue influencing circadian rhythms is daylight.

While exposure to optimal levels of natural light is essential to our physical and mental well-being, a prolonged deficit can trigger the disruption of circadian rhythms, leading to severe affections, such as:

  • Diabetes
  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression
  • SAD (seasonal affective disorder)
  • Bipolar disorders
  • Obesity

What can we do to prevent our circadian rhythm from being disrupted? In an ideal world, we would all work and live in environments that allow plenty of sunlight to penetrate. Unfortunately, most of us spend our days in office buildings that provide insufficient amounts of natural light, and it’s taking a toll on our health. It is ironic that natural (and free of cost) light has become a luxury, which many can no longer afford.

Luckily, there are measures that we can take to alleviate our daylight shortage. These measures can be as simple as choosing to walk a lengthier path from your parking spot to your office, thus incrementally increasing your sunlight exposure; or taking your lunch outdoors. Making a conscious decision to adjust your daily schedule and allow for more sunlight in your life is a smart choice. Additionally, there are steps you could take to optimize the lighting ambiance in your office and home. Recent technological advancements in LED lighting are opening up more options for creating better lighting conditions in indoor environments. We will explore some innovative ideas in a future blog post, so stay tuned.

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