How’s Your Circadian Rhythms?

Are you in a good rhythm? Our medical team at New Hope Unlimited believes that it is very important that a cancer patient gets in a good routine and a good sleep pattern. The immune system helps to heal the body while one sleeps. Many times when our body is trying to fight off an infection or virus, we become sleepy and feel inclined to want to take a nap more than on a normal day. This is because when we are in a good sleep, there are many physiological events taking place within our body. The human body is an amazing “machine” that God has created. Scientist and doctors still have much more to learn about what goes on but sometimes just using our common sense can help us greatly. When we learn to listen to our body, it can help us heal before we are sick. It is very important for a cancer patient to sleep well because at that time is when a great deal of healing takes place.

How Long Is A Circadian Rhythm?

A circadian rhythm is approximately a 24 hour cycle within the physiological processes of our body and includes physical, mental, and behavioral changes. These such changes are very important to the wellbeing of our immune system. The possibility of having the chance of our circadian rhythms becoming confused may be related to the way our body has the opportunity to help heal itself. For instance, ask anyone how they feel if their job requires them to swing shifts on an uncontrolled regular basis. I worked in the Emergency Room for almost 12 years and had to swing shifts. Myself and most everyone I worked with would admit to having more colds, being more fatigued, and having less mental clarity. I am originally from South Carolina. Traveling across the United States causes jet lag, and can cause our circadian rhythms to become off balance. For example, if you travel from California to South Carolina, you “lose” three hours of time. So when you wake up at 6:30 a.m., your body still thinks its 3:30 a.m. So no matter how much coffee you drink, you still feel groggy.

Our Internal Clocks

Rebecca Scott, a sleep therapist with the New York Sleep Institute, explains that our circadian rhythms are the reason why we become sleepy, become more alert at certain times of the day, and even why we feel hungry at certain times of the day or night. If you are on the journey of trying to heal from cancer or any other disease, it is mandatory that you get a good night sleep.

Circadian rhythms are important for researchers to follow to determine sleep patterns and how different hormones are regulated by our “internal clocks.” A new study was recently published in the journal, Immunity, revealing that we have a particular gene known as the “Toll-like receptor 9” gene. It was discovered that this gene is involved with the circadian rhythm which helps our defense against infection. When our body gets the right amount of sleep, or a good sleep, this gene helps to improve the function of our immune system.

I have included in this article a website I found that may help one to determine how well their circadian rhythms are working. I have not taken the test they provide on their website but if you are so inclined to take it, it may be beneficial or just fun. The site is, http://www.usa.philips.com/c/circadian/178345/cat/. Also an interesting video from Youtube is http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M9wDNaNqWrI.

We all should start listening to our body’s more. Sometimes this is hard to do when we are all so busy with everyday life. No matter if we are fighting for our health, trying to stay healthy, or simply just fortunate enough to be getting older, we need to stop for a few minutes and remember to love ourselves and listen to what our body is trying to tell us.

Dr Fredda Branyon

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