Finding a Daily Rhythm, Part 1
Restore Your Health by Following a Daily Monastic Rhythm
A famous George Gerswhin song says, “I’ve got rhythm… who could ask for anything more?” It’s a song about a woman who is content with her life. And, there’s an amazing amount of truth in those lyrics, because when you live with rhythm, you will be happier, healthier, more alert and productive.
Rhythm, not just the musical kind, exists all around us. It’s a huge part of nature. Think about the sun cycle every day – rising and setting, the phases of the moon and its effect on tides, and the change of seasons, each following a rhythm. Then, think about your heart beat, breathing, and digestive cycle – there is rhythm within your own body.
According to thefreedictionary.com rhythm (rĭth′əm) noun; is “the movement or variation characterized by the regular recurrence or alternation of different quantities or conditions.” As a regular pattern in time, a rhythm can refer to any natural cyclical event that lasts from microseconds on up to many years such as the rotation of the planets around the sun, or Halley’s Comet returning every 76 years. Within our bodies, we have rhythms that regulate our immune system, hormone levels, appetite and digestion, body temperature, blood pressure, even reaction time.
You’ve heard of Circadian Rhythm which is an innate process regulating the sleep-wake cycle of all living things, and repeats approximately every 24 hours. We all have a “master clock” called the suprachiasmatic nucleus which is located in the hypothalamus of your brain near the optic nerves. It receives information from your eyes about the amount of light you are exposed to throughout the day; it then sends signals that regulate various systems in your body. This process can be altered over time, but ordinarily it attempts to follow its formulaic function even when we stay up late. This was proven in the 18th century when Jean-Jacques d’Ortous de Mairan, a French scientist, discovered that Mimosa trees, which fold up their leaves at night and open them in the morning, continued to follow this pattern even when kept in total darkness.
This is how your Circadian Rhythm works: in the morning, after you wake up, your body temperature starts to rise, as does your blood pressure. Your melatonin secretions stop, and your testosterone secretions increase. It’s time to turn up the lights, open the curtains and let the sunshine in. By mid-morning, your gastro-intestinal system prepares for elimination, and you reach peak awareness. By mid-afternoon, your coordination reaches its peak, and your reaction time is at its fastest. Throughout the daylight hours, your body is absorbing nutrients, so this is the time for your largest meals. In the late afternoon and early evening, your muscle strength, blood pressure, and body temperatures reach their highest levels. As the sun sets and the dark of night takes over, things begin to slow down, and your body begins to assimilate the nutrients you’ve consumed. It’s time to dim the lights, and allow your body to start winding down. Use lower wattage bulbs, and avoid the blue-light of television, phone, and computer screens. Mid-way through the evening, your melatonin secretions start back up. If you go to bed by 11:00pm, you will reach your deepest sleep by 2:00am, this is when healing takes place; and your body releases human growth hormone which triggers tissue repair and cell growth. By 4:00am your body temperature and blood pressure will drop to their lowest levels. Then the sun rises and it starts all over again.
When you stay up late at night for extended periods, especially if you’re losing sleep, your circadian rhythm gets out of sync which can increase your risk for anxiety, depression, obesity, and diabetes. It can lead to drowsiness and lethargy causing your work performance to suffer, your mental alertness to falter, and you may even become prone to accidents.
Join us next week for the second part of this article…
The Complete Guide to the Science of Circadian Rhythms by Jeremy Berger, observer.com, December 29, 2017
Leading Like a Monk: Finding Our Rhythms by Greg Richardson, patheos.com, April 13, 2017
Monastic rhythm of life by Ian Adams, churchtimes.co.uk, February 22, 2011
What Are Biological Rhythms? by Amber Erickson Gabbey and Rachel Nall, healthline.com, November 4, 2016
At Optimum Health Institute, we teach you all about establishing a daily schedule that supports your natural circadian rhythm.
During your visit, our caring team can help you achieve your physical, mental, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at www.optimumhealth.org, and call us at (800) 588-0809 to make your reservation.