Our body has a natural body clock known as the circadian rhythm. It tells us when to wake up, go to sleep and eat. Our body takes cues from the environment - daylight, darkness and temperature as well as physical activity and lifestyle choices in order to gauge what time of the day it is. Hormones also play a big role: melatonin is a hormone that makes us sleepy - our body releases more of it at night than it does in the day. Cortisol is another important hormone - this makes us more alert and we often produce it in the morning to help us get up and about.
Sleep is really important - it’s when our body undergoes essential repair and maintenance. The amount of sleep that we need varies between individuals and is linked to age, sex, genetics and lifestyle. Research shows that poor quality sleep can have a negative impact on physical and mental performance, as well as how we feel emotionally.
Around one third of us self-report to suffer from a lack of sleep at some point in their life! Sometimes we can get out of sync because the natural cues our body pays attention to such as how dark it is outside, can conflict with our lifestyle, for example if you’re a night shift worker or you frequently travel across different time zones. Do not worry though, there are things that we can do to get back on track with our body clock such as ensuring that we get enough light when we need to be awake, participating in daily exercise and avoiding stimulants before bed.
Maintaining your circadian rhythm is one of the health pillars we must focus on to ensure we’re fit and healthy. Did you know that a lack of good sleep is linked to diabetes, obesity and mental health conditions? Ensuring that we get a proper amount of sleep can prevent both short and long term health consequences to our organs, cardiovascular system and metabolism. If you aren’t getting enough sleep you should make an appointment to go and see your GP.
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