Have you ever wondered why you feel so bad after traveling across time zones? And what about shift workers, such as long-distance truck drivers, emergency service workers and airline employees or someone under constant stress and unable to maintain regular sleep patterns? When people are required to be awake at a time that their body clocks associate with sleep, it has the potential to disrupt their circadian rhythms¹.
The daily fluctuations of our biological clock represented in the diagram are
fundamental to us. During the day, we are active. We eat, many of us enjoying carbohydrates, having strong metabolisms and efficient digestive systems. However, at night our bodies rely on stored energy for long periods. We are mostly stationary and digestion is limited, so eating carbohydrates at this time can be harmful because our metabolic rate slows down.
Along with eating at odd hours, night shift workers and jet-lagged travelers get fewer hours of sleep, which is often of poor quality, and have less exposure to daylight. A study revealed that individuals who did this for ten days experienced circadian disruption². The health implications included:
- Decreased leptin (-17%)
- Increased glucose (+6%)
- Increased insulin (+22%)
- Reversed daily cortisol rhythm
- Increased mean arterial pressure (+3%)
- Reduced sleep efficiency (-20%)
Tips for a healthy circadian rhythm:
Three hours before bed: Dim the lights, minimize the use of television and electronics and avoid vigorous exercise.
Sleep: Choose a cool, dark, quiet room. Try not to take sleeping pills because they will deplete your vitamin D and calcium levels.
Try to maintain regular meal times: Daily meals are usually consumed anywhere between 6.30 a.m. and 9.30 p.m., which is a 15-hour time span. A healthier and more circadian-aligned meal pattern would be a 12-hour time span during the daytime followed by 12 hours of overnight fasting.
¹ Reutrakul, S & Khutson, K. Consequences of Circadian Disruption on Cardiometabolic Health, JSMC July 2015.
² Scheer et al, Adverse metabolic and cardiovascular consequences of circadian misalignment. Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 106:4453-4458.
Since 1982, The AIM Companies has been dedicated to improving the quality of people’s lives with life-changing products and by rewarding passionate Members with a free-enterprise compensation plan.