Circadian and Other Clocks
Circadian and Other Clocks: Our bodies have clocks. Hoo Boy, do our bodies have clocks. And, although few people realize it, our bodies are very territorial about their clocks. So territorial, in fact, that they won’t change their plans just because you change yours. And they hate it a lot when you take them for granted. But if you learn how to cooperate with all your body clocks, magic can happen.
Time for everything
The Bible says there’s a time for everything: A time to plant, and a time to harvest. A time to cry, and a time to laugh. And on, and on, ending with a time for war, and a time for peace. See Ecclesiastes 3
And let me tell you an absolute fact: Our bodies got that memo. Oh, yes, indeed! We have clocks upon clocks throughout our bodies to keep things on track and on time.
Our clocks don’t need to be reset; they just keep perking along. They don’t interfere with each other’s business, so our bodies are like multi-ring circuses with all sorts of activities, but no crashing-and-burning.
We are, in fact, amazing. Beyond description even, which may be why you don’t hear a lot about all the time schedules required to carry us happily through life.
Fight against clocks
But (and you probably guessed there would be a “but”) we’re currently waging an all-out fight against our clocks and their intended rounds. Perhaps you wondered why disease rates are going up, life expectancy is going down, and diseases strike early and often these days. Our clocks are in a mess.
Our bodies play a role in the mess. Their my-way-or-the-highway attitude isn’t amused by can’t-we-all-just-get-along attempts to get them to loosen up.
Our bodies will not change. Oh, they’ll pitch in as best they can to rescue us from ourselves. They’ll give every ounce of everything they have to give, just to keep us alive.
There will come a time, though, when our bodies have done everything they can do, and they can do no more.
In fact, a recent study said the cause of cancer is different from what we’ve always thought it was. Cancer shows up, according to the study, when your body reaches the “I’ve worked my fingers to the bone, without any help from you, and now, sadly, you’re going down.” It’s the end of the line. Not because your body doesn’t want to help, but because it’s too confused and fatigued to find its way home to health.
(Yes, the study uses much larger words, but that’s what it means.)
Circadian system clock
The most well-known clock, our circadian system, lives in our pineal gland, part of our endocrine system-which explains a lot.
The endocrine system is all about one-for-all, all-for-one. Anything that happens in one part of the endocrine system affects the entire system. Since the endocrine system controls all of health, our little pineal gland has the power of a giant.
When “springing forward” for daylight savings time puts your body out of sorts, that’s your circadian system grumpily trying to adjust to such a fool idea.
That’s also what’s happening when jet lag strikes. If you don’t get jet lag, no matter how many times zones you cross, it means your circadian clock is struggling. Put that symptom together with your other symptoms to figure out how to get things ship-shape again. (My Moving to Health program and my Pep for the Pooped e-book are all about dealing with symptoms. It’s the only way I know that works.)
Heart attacks typically happen in the morning. Interestingly, if you jet off to, say, Paris for a holiday, your heart attack window is on home time, not Paris time.
Asthma attacks are more frequent-and worse-in the middle of the night, again using local time.
Body clocks affect what your body does with what you send down your gullet, too. If you take the amino acid, tryptophan, in the morning, your body converts it to the happy juice, serotonin, to ease you through the day. But if you take it after dark (or thereabouts), it converts tryptophan to melatonin, encouraging sleep. (If you don’t need serotonin or melatonin, your magic body just sends the tryptophan on its way, without changing anything.)
If you eat a high carb snack before bed, though, there goes your sleep. Handling sugar always comes first, so the body sloshes out insulin to deal with the snack before it can move into sleep mode.
And so on.
Life goes a whole lot better when you and your body clocks are in synch. Since your clocks aren’t going to change their approach to life, learning how to cooperate is up to you. Learning health-promoting ways to cooperate with your body is that I talk about.
God is good,
Copyright by Bette Dowdell. All rights reserved
P.S. Bette Dowdell is not a doctor, nor does she purport to be She’s a patient who’s been studying and successfully handling her own endocrine problems for more than 30 years. She offers introductory teleseminars and an in-depth 12-month subscription program, “Moving to Health” about living well with endocrine issues. She explains how things work-or don’t, discusses what things to avoid as well as the things that help, and she provides a lot of well-researched nutritional information. Subscribe to her free e-zine at Information is power.