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CLOCKING YOUR BODY

October 21st, 2014 | Health, Lifestyle

In the first of a series, our experts look into the importance of understanding, and improving, the power of your body clock

Jet lag, the monthly cycle, autumnal blues… we’re all familiar with the obvious rhythms that govern our bodies. But, what we often miss are the hidden rhythms that silently affect our health, our performance, our wellbeing. We all have a very sophisticated internal body clock that controls a huge amount of what we do:  how we sleep, how we absorb nourishment, how we perform both cognitively and physically. At Grace, we work in harmony with these internal rhythms to achieve the optimal balance of treatment and timing, and have seen, over and over, how paying attention to our body’s rhythms really pays dividends.  Balancing the timing of your meals, for instance, can make a huge difference to your weight; taking medicine at the right time of day can help reduce the dose; getting enough natural light can directly affect your mood, health and sense of wellbeing.

Most of our individual organs actually have their own clocks, but they’re all controlled by a small group of nerve cells in the hypothalamus, an area of the brain just above where the optic nerves from the eyes cross – and that’s for a reason, as light is the key factor in setting and re-setting, our body clocks.  It’s important they are re-set every day:  ‘morning larks’ with a fast body clock have an internal cycle of about 22 hours, while ‘night owls’ have a 25-hour cycle.  Sunlight synchronises our internal time cycle each day to a 24-hour cycle.

Our internal clocks account for why our bodies perform differently at different times of day.  It’s why, for example, teenagers sleep in late and why most Olympic records are broken in the afternoon.  Body clocks affect our performance, health and biochemistry, giving us optimal times of day for almost everything we do, from eating to sleeping, from concentrating on tasks to taking exercise – and this is what we’ll be exploring in much greater detail in this series of blogs.

Our next blog will look at jet lag and offer tips on how to minimise the effects and get your body back to normal as quickly as possible.