Here’s some things you may have heard before:
“Go to bed and wake up at the same time, even on weekends.”
“Our bodies are creatures of habit; they love a good routine.”
But what about this:
“Our cells and internal organs each have their own internal biological clock.”
From Circadian Rhythm to circadian rhythms
For a long time, humans (and scientists) thought of the brain as a command center. It would send out signals to the body saying “okay lungs: inhale, then exhale.” Or “okay body, you’ve been awake for 16 hours, it’s time to sleep.” And from a macro level, that made sense.
But recently, scientists have been questioning that theory by asking “okay, how come your whole body–not just your sleep schedule– still feels “off” if you change time zones?” Or “how come eating later during the day tends to produce more weigh gain than eating the same meal earlier?”
Turns out that our bodies–and the cells that make up our organs and tissues–operates on a series of clocks that all sync up as part of our circadian rhythm. In a recent Wall Street Journal article, columnist Shirley Wang spoke with Dr. Fred Turek (a colleague of Zeo SAB member Phyllis Zee) about how being off schedule causes our bodies to change on a cellular level–often, for the worst. In trials with mice, scientists noticed that when they shifted sleeping and eating schedule in mice, the mice not only gained more weight but their new behavior also started to mess things up on a cellular level.
Sleep is the Force Multiplier
What does this have to do with me? Well, if you’re sleep/wake schedule is off or inconsistent:
- You could be packing on more pounds than you realize if you eat later in the day than earlier.
- You could also be more vulnerable to metabolic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and high cholesterol.
- You could be making more mistakes if you’re trying to finish something the night before it’s due–or if you’re giving a presentation right after that red eye.
- And if you’re looking to get the most out of your workout you’ll have to work extra hard just to get the minimum results.
Given everything that we do have to juggle day in and day out, choosing to make our lives even harder seems pretty dumb. Who really wants more work?
One super easy way to help keep all that internal stuff in check is to simply go to bed and get up at the same time. Really. By establishing–and keeping!–a consistent sleep schedule, you’re allowing for greater synchronization within your body of all these different clocks. You will be smarter, fitter, and more alert as a result.
If you haven’t tried this–or if you fell off the schedule wagon (it does happen)–set aside the next 7 days to go to bed and wake up at the same time. Keep doing this until you have 7 consecutive days of the same bedtime and rise time. Then come back after those 7 days and tell me how you feel. I’ll be right here, all ears.
- Jet Lag Can Make You Stupid (Duh)
- A Discovery About my Circadian Rhythm
- Children of the Revolution: Tim Ferriss on how Sleep can get you that 4 Hour Body
- Sleep More. Be Awesome.