A wonderful group came together over the phone last night to discuss morning routines — how to create them, maintain them, and avoid sabotaging them. Someone asked how a person who works a graveyard shift could create a morning routine. This led to a great discussion of circadian rhythms, internal clocks, and raised a subject addressed in some new research, covered this week in a news story on NPR’s “The Salt”.
We’ve known for a long time that much of our sleep/wake cycle is set by an internal clock located in the hypothalamus region of the brain. What we haven’t completely understood is the relationship between that internal clock and other organs in the body. Fred Turek, a circadian researcher at Northwestern University, was interviewed by NPR’s Allison Aubrey about some of the new research that sheds better light on those relationships.
It turns out that our internal clocks exist, not only in our brains, but in every cell of our bodies. They are normally governed by the hypothalamus, but they can be trained to run counterpoint to it. And when they are, things like weight, blood pressure, and even blood sugar levels can be affected. Long-term behavior running counter to the body’s internal rhythms can lay the groundwork for chronic diseases like heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Those who work late hours need to be especially aware about the long-term risks they run when living counter to the body’s natural rhythms.
You can read the article or listen to the audio here: