Have you ever heard the term “Circadian Dysrhythmia”? It’s hard to even say it let alone know what it means! Circadian Dysrhythmia is a fancy medical term for “jet lag”! You experience jet lag when there’s a disruption in your circadian rhythm – your body’s natural 24-hour clock – due to travel across time zones. Circadian rhythms act as a biological “clock,” and they have a direct effect on many processes in your body. Darkness and light, body temperature, meal times, exercise and stress have an influence on an individual’s circadian rhythm.
Have you ever known a person who can wake up, full of life, at the crack of dawn, just as the sun is beginning to rise? This same person probably begins to wind down at 8 p.m. and is in bed, sound asleep at 10 p.m.
What happens when this same person travels to a destination where the time is six hours earlier? This person leaves on a plane at say 9 a.m. travelling from London to New York. The flight is 7 hours long and when they land, it’s 11a.m. in New York but it’s 4 p.m.in London! So, somewhere around 5 p.m. New York time (10 p.m. London time), this same person starts to yawn, because according to his or her internal clock, it’s bedtime, only the sun is still out!
You can see where this starts to get confusing and we haven’t even brought this person back to London yet where the same thing happens all over again! And it’s not just frequent fliers who have circadian rhythm problems. Those who perform shift work, such as policemen and hospital workers, deal with this same issue every time their shifts change. This frequent resetting of one’s internal clock can cause sleep problems, such as insomnia or waking too early. Chronic disruption of one’s normal circadian rhythms, (i.e., shift work) can result in an increased risk for heart, gastrointestinal, emotional and mental problems, as well as headaches and fatigue. Paolo Sassone-Corsi, researcher, professor and Chair of the Department of Pharmacology at the University of California, Irvine, states, “Our circadian rhythms and metabolism are closely partnered to ensure that cells function properly and remain healthy. When the balance between these two vital processes is upset, normal cellular function can be disrupted and this can lead to illness and disease.”
Research performed by Sassone-Corsi suggests that a way to correct your circadian rhythm is through proper sleep and diet. For example, establish a schedule of going to bed and waking at the same time every day (weekends included).
And regular chiropractic adjustments may help you deal with the stress of shift work and frequent travel!