5 Causes Your Timing Is Off

Causes of Circadian Disruption You May Not Know

Feeling tired but wired…sleepless nights…trouble waking up?

Any of these can be signs of circadian disruption—meaning your external daily rhythms are out of sync with your internal body clock. We run on a 24 hour per day cycle and any disruption of that cycle can affect your health. The other day, I needed to be somewhere and the clock I was watching, unbeknownst to me, was 15 minutes slow. It was only when I picked up my phone that I realized the other clock was out of sync. That change in time rhythm put ME out of sync. Think about your internal clock running slow and how your body would respond to that.

We can correct the problem, but first we need to know the cause, right?

Most people know that working nights will mess with your body clock (ask anyone who works nights), but here are 5 other causes of circadian disruption you may not know:

1. Sleeping In On Weekends
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but if you wake to an alarm 5 days a week and sleep until noon on the other 2, your body feels like you’re constantly traveling between time zones. It’s called social jet lag and can do more harm than good. Strive to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, even on weekends.

2. Being a Night Owl
Lots of people think being a night owl is just a personality trait like anything else. Unfortunately, studies show that night owls are more likely to experience circadian disruption and are at a higher risk for some conditions, like diabetes. I’ve worked in many hospitals during my career. Without fail, the staff that worked the night shifts had health issues and complained of feeling “off” on their non working days, fatigue, lethargy, weight gain, and just not feeling good.

3. Poor Diet
Both the types of food you choose and the timing of eating can alter the patterns of gut microbiota, which then influence circadian clocks in the gut. Digestion and blood sugar regulation follow a daily rhythm, so your eating patterns should too. Remember, the gut has its own nervous system constantly monitoring what’s going on in your intestines. To rest your gut and allow your body to heal, use a 6-8 hour (even 1 hour) time window during which you eat your meals while fasting during the remainder of the day.

4. Alcohol Consumption
Chronic alcohol consumption alters the timing of the liver clock and causes a mismatch with your central circadian rhythm. This can happen with even small amounts of alcohol when combined with other variables, like working at night. There’s that pesky night shift again! Alcohol is metabolized to sugar which will inflame your tissues, allow weight gain, and disrupt your sleep pattern. Alcohol is detrimental to circadian rhythms.

5. Working Indoors
The most powerful external influence on our body clocks is the 24-hour light-dark cycle. If you work in artificial light, your body misses out on the benefits of full-spectrum natural light. Solutions could include taking outdoor breaks or investing in a light-therapy lamp. There is a signal your retina sends to your hypothalamus when the sun goes down. In turn, the hypothalamus signals your pineal gland to begin releasing melatonin, the hormone that prepares your body for sleep and rest. Working under artificial lights disrupts that signal and may lead to poor sleep patterns.

The bottom line? If you struggle with your energy level or sleep, there’s a chance circadian disruption might be at play.

Email me ( bryanjtreacymd@gmail.com ) for more info on how we can explore the root cause for your circadian disruption.


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