Circadian Rhythm

Your body has an internal "clock" that controls many of your physiological processes. This internal clock is called the circadian rhythm, and it helps to regulate when you feel awake and when you feel sleepy.

The circadian rhythm is controlled by a small region of the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN is located in the hypothalamus, just above the point where the optic nerves (which carry information from the eyes to the brain) cross.

The SCN receives input from the eyes about the level of light exposure and uses this information to help keep the circadian rhythm in sync with the day-night cycle.

The circadian rhythm is not just a sleep-wake cycle; it also regulates many other important bodily functions, including body temperature, hormone production, and metabolism.

Disruptions to the circadian rhythm can have a significant impact on health. For example, shift work (working at night or during irregular hours) has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.

Jet lag (a temporary disruption to the circadian rhythm caused by travel across time zones) can also lead to fatigue, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems.

There are several ways to help keep the circadian rhythm in sync. Exposure to bright light during the day can help to regulate the sleep-wake cycle.

Avoiding exposure to blue light (from electronic screens) in the evening can also help, as blue light can disrupt the circadian rhythm. Getting regular exercise and eating a healthy diet can also help to keep the body clock on track.

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