How circadian rhythms control health, energy, body shape and body weight

Blog by Dr Rainer Viehweger

In this article we want to give you some information for a better understanding of how the circadian rhythms work and how you can implement this new knowledge into your daily life.  

Never before in human history so called lifestyle diseases were so common as they are today. Mankind has left the alignment with nature´s rhythms as much as never before due to our 24/7 society!

The automated and personalised programs in the REDHealth CB devices follow the sequences of the circadian rhythms of our body. The CB device with its built-in clock sends the signals always at the right time for the benefit of our body field.

Since all body rhythms need to be synchronised, it is important that our daily lifestyle will not influence the system in a negative way. The result of such disturbances would be a so-called chronic jetlag with the following symptoms according to Ariel Whitten:

Chronic Jetlag – disturbed circadian rhythms

  • Sleep disorders
  • Depression, Anxiety disorders
  • Low mental and physical capability
  • Overweight
  • Exhaustion/Lethargia

Sound circadian rhythms

  • Deep, restoring sleep
  • Good mood
  • Optimal mental and physical fitness
  • Optimal body weight
  • Abundant energy

The circadian biology influences the functions of the hormone system and the energy production in the cells through exactly timed protein production.

If the circadian rhythms suffer from disruption permanently, over time, we will develop lack of energy, overweight, depressive states and many other disease states.  

Timer – Zeitgeber

Light

Movement

Nutrition

Temperature

Did you ever think about these factors regarding to their role at different times of the day? 

Of course, our grandparents had their sayings:

The bedroom must be cold.   

Head cold – feet warm. (Especially, when we go to bed.)

The early bird catches the worm. (Truly, the morning light wakes us up.)

Eat like a beggar for dinner.

There exist a lot more sayings like these. Researching the field of the circadian rhythms, as chronobiology does now to a broader extent, helps understanding the old wisdom from a scientific point of view.

If you want to use your circadian rhythms in an optimal way and have more energy, consider using the following tips and support yourself with the help of a REDHealth CB device:

Morning light 
tells the brain that it is day time!  

After we get up in the morning, it is very important to get enough light during the first 30 minutes. Of course, the best source of light is natural sunlight. Day light has at least an intensity of 10,000 lux. When the sky is blue and the sun is shining, the intensity goes up to 150,000 lux. Close to the windows, we find only 400 lux. If possible, it is the best to be outside for 30 minutes. If this is not possible, 30 minutes of using a full spectrum daylight lamp can help. Those lamps are used widely against the so-called winter depression. They can be quite expensive, and natural day light is still brighter. You can google SAD (seasonal affective disorder) or daylight lamp therapy. Make sure that they have 10,000 lux at a distance of about 10 inches. 

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Evening light
the lack of blue light is the signal for sleep hormone production

During the day we need the full spectrum of visible light with all colors. In the evening hours, blue light is not beneficial, because it keeps us awake by blocking the production of the sleep hormone called melatonin. We could call melatonin the darkness hormone. After sunset, it is important to slowly reduce the blue light from artificial light sources. Open fires from chimneys and candle flames do not contain blue light. We love the feeling of security and warmness. We could also use crystal salt lamps or orange bulbs.

LED TV-screens, PC-monitors, laptop, tablet and smartphone screens have been calibrated to show the brightness of the light of sunny mornings. Partly this is due to the white LED background light, which by its technical nature has a very high content of blue color. In the evening hours, blue light filters can help. Today, many modern monitors come with an in-built blue light filter, smartphones mostly have a software based night mode. From the internet you can also download the f.lux freeware and use it with your PC or Mac. TVs should be set to the warmest color mode, which the TV can produce. The best solution is not to use these devices late.

It helps a lot, if we don´t use any blue light at least one hour before we go to bed. It may sound radical, but you will sleep better!

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Sleeping in Darkness                   – in absolute darkness!  

These days it may be difficult to find a way for sleeping in an absolute dark room. During night flights most airlines still provide eye masks, others don´t. We can use those masks on the airplane, but at home every night? Even a very weak light source can create a sleep rhythm disturbance. LEDs from electronic devices, when they are in sleep mode, are bright enough to create trouble. Nature creates nearly perfect darkness. Sometimes the moon is very bright, starlight does not create problems. In Northern or Southern parts of the Earth we face different rhythms, where we have brightness at night in Summer and deep darkness all time in Winter. Everything would be good, if we would face our artificial light sources which we use all the time. If you need to go to the toilet at night, please use little red light spots to lighten your way and do not switch on the very bright light in the bathroom. It is not only the light adaption of the eye that we feel as difficult, the bright light starts to tell our brain that the day in coming and we start producing cortisol to be active for the day. Darken your windows completely for the night, which may be a challenge if you sleep in a hotel or in a holiday apartment.  

Psychological stress

The stress-hormone cortisol, which is produced in the adrenal glands, and the ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone) and CRH (corticotropin releasing hormone), which are produced in the pituitary and the midbrain also show circadian rhythms. They also react to light. At the same time they also signal the thyroid gland, which starts to produce more thyroid hormone. The thyroid hormone tells mainly our muscle cells to enhance the metabolism and produce more energy. It is day time now, and activity is needed. The muscles need more energy for the tasks of the day!

Psychological stress causes the release of cortisol through activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis with all its effects on the other areas of the hormone system. The growth hormone and prolactin, which we need for regeneration at night, are blocked and don´t work. Meditation, massage, exercise, dancing, sex, yoga, listening to music can help release emotional stress.

But not only psycho-emotional stress can activate the stress axis. Too much exercise, especially in the evening hours (sport is good until about 5.30 pm), coffee, fasting, malnutrition and similar factors can be activators of the stress axis.  

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Sleep    –     sleep hygiene

How much sleep do we need? The answer is that we need exactly that sleep which enables us to wake up refreshed and energised in the morning. The quality of sleep to be more important than the amount of sleep, but when we sleep seems to be the most important. There will be more on sleep later.

These factors have an influence on how the mitochondria in our cells work at night. When the hormone system is set right (we have not spoken about leptin) and in a cold environment, our mitochondria mainly use fat as their energy source. During the deep sleep phases the mitochondria create a lot of heat, which keeps us warm, but is also used to recharge the so-called water battery to provide order and energy for all cell and body functions. During the night, our cells also repair proteins, especially the fiber proteins called collagen in the connective tissue matrix, for which they need the electrons from the charged water layers in and around the cells. Another important process is called autophagy, where old and damaged proteins are digested by the cell and replaced by fresh proteins. Of course, this needs more energy than repairing proteins with electrons. Last but not least, whole cells are replaced, which needs most energy and, over time, depletes the stem cell pool, if needed too much.

We see, how important the night is!!!   

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