Have you ever wondered why you feel hungry at certain points in the day? Or why you might feel drowsy/fatigued at other times? The answer to this question is simple: Circadian Rhythm.
If you have a Psych major friend studying behavioral neuro-science, you might know that, in simplest terms, Circadian Rhythm is our internal clock. It is composed of internal rhythms that occur in our bodies, which regulate bodily functions and last about a day, give or take 24 hours. These internal rhythms are also a major determining factor in our wakefulness and sleep. Not only that, but our Circadian Rhythm is also present in our eating and drinking habits, hormones, sensitivity to drugs, body temperature, and more.
Basically, our biological clock is the internal mechanism that controls behaviors that we exhibit on a regular schedule, and we each habituate our own Circadian Rhythm. For example, if you get in the habit of eating at 11 a.m., your body will begin to feel hunger at that time each day. If you get in the habit of going to sleep at 10:30 p.m. each night, you’ll begin to get tired around this time every night. How our Circadian Rhythm operates is largely based on our habits that we form for ourselves and carry out on a daily basis.
Circadian Rhythm is also aligned with and affected by day and night time. It makes sense that you wouldn’t get hungry in the middle of the night, because that’s when your body is used to sleeping, and it makes sense that you wouldn’t be overcome with exhaustion in the middle of the day because that’s when your body is used to being awake.
What’s so great about Circadian Rhythm is that we can use it to our advantage towards nutrition and maintaining a healthy, active, lifestyle. It’s usually said that the best time of day to workout is in the morning, as it kick starts your metabolism. If you’re not used to waking up early to exercise, you can make a habit of waking up earlier and your body will adjust accordingly. Thanks to Circadian Rhythm, your body would begin to naturally wake up around the time you’ve been training it to. Not only that, but you can make a habit of eating meals at certain times in the day that are convenient for you, and eventually your body will get used to feeling hungry at these particular times.
While some might learn about it in a psychology or nutrition class, generally speaking, most people have never even heard of Circadian Rhythm. By having an awareness of your own biological clock and internal rhythms, you can easily find wellbeing and balance in your daily life.