The circadian rhythm is often referred to as the clock of the body. It is a control center of the human brain which is also known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). It is a 24-hour cycle which regulates the body’s sleep. External stimuli such as variations in sunlight and temperature can easily affect the rhythm of this clock. When there is serious disruption to the circadian rhythm significant adverse effects can occur in the person’s sleeping and eating disorders, culminating into negative health outcomes. Chronic disruption of the circadian rhythm can be a risk factor for development of cardiovascular diseases, obesity and neurological problems such as depression or bipolar disorders as well as cognitive problems. In order to keep it synchronized, the circadian clock is said to be dependent upon visual cues of light and darkness which are communicated to the body via our eyes to the suprachiasmatic nucleus. Meals and exercise regimens are other cues, which are reported to have the potential to influence the circadian clock. When a person experiences trouble falling asleep or maintaining sleep or if they tend to wake up too early or have difficulty going back to sleep they are said to have circadian rhythm disorder. Other specific circadian rhythm sleep-related problems include delayed sleep phase disorder (DSP). People with this problem tend to stay awake until around 1:00 am and 2:00 am, and wake up later in the morning. Often this is more prevalent among young adults. The advanced sleep phase disorder (ASP) which is more common among people advanced in age happens when people tend to go to bed early; between 6:00 pm and 9:00 pm and wake up equally early. Circadian rhythm is the reason why people get jet lag because the rhythm of their body clock is disrupted or misaligned by finding themselves suddenly in a different time zone. The more time zones they cross the more severe the problem. The rate of recovery is slower in older individuals than in younger people. Shift work can also disrupt the circadian rhythm particularly if it includes night shift. The situation can be exacerbated by susceptibility or the presence of disorders such as sleep apnea and psychiatric problems.
The National Health, Lung, and Blood Institute claims that sleep is has a critical role as far as maintaining good health is concerned throughout one’s life. Getting regular and quality sleep can protect your mental health as well as physical health. During sleeping hours your body is busy supporting healthy brain function and maintaining physical health because it is during sleep that the brain begins to prepare pathways that help you learn, grasp and remember new information the next day. That is why some studies claim that quality sleep improves learning. Sleep is also critical for development and growth in young children and teenagers.
At creation God established rhythms which were to control the earth. For example, He established the rhythm of light and darkness even before he created human beings or other forms of life. Scientists have discovered that both light and darkness are necessary for life for they both let our bodies know when it is time to secrete certain hormones necessary for functional equilibrium and homeostasis. In Psalm 127:2 the Bible treats sleep as a gift from God and it is usually during sleep that the body rests and is rejuvenated.