By Dr. Jenna Macciochi, Head of Innovation at Ancient + Brave and Immunologist
In the busyness of modern life, finding balance and synchronicity can be a challenge. Yet, the innate wisdom of our bodies craves alignment with the natural world around us. Underlying our intricate cellular physiology, our bodies and minds operate best when in harmony with underlying rhythms, known as our biorhythms. Aligning circadian rhythms in the modern world presents a unique set of challenges that stem from the fast-paced and technologically-driven nature of contemporary life. Like a symphony orchestra without a conductor, poor biorhythm alignment leads to chaos in our biology, sleep quality, metabolism, digestion, mood and cognitive function. Research now confirms that misalignment of our biorhythms is associated with an increased risk of metabolic disorders, cardiovascular diseases, and even certain cancers.
The circadian rhythm is our central biorhythm that governs all our physiological and psychological patterns. Derived from the Latin words "circa" (around) and "diem" (day), circadian rhythms are the internal, roughly 24-hour cycles guided primarily through your eyes perceiving light and dark cues from the sun rising and setting. Light is the strongest synchronising agent, known as a ‘zeitgeber’. When daylight hits our eyes in the morning, this is conveyed by the retina to an intricate network of molecular mechanisms in the brain, with the master conductor being the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – a cluster of cells located in the hypothalamus of the brain. This master clock helps to synchronise our internal clocks with the natural light-dark cycle and lies upstream of our overall well-being and performance.
Circadian alignment with the rise and setting of the sun ensures the orchestration of all the ‘clocks’ inside each of our cells. But while the sun reigns as the primary zeitgeber that synchronises our internal clocks with the external world, several other cues, known as secondary zeitgebers, contribute to our overall alignment. Being social and active during the day and retreating into more solitary and calming routines during the evening help reinforce our natural biorhythms. Our bodies are sensitive to temperature changes, and exposure to cooler temperatures in the evening promotes the release of melatonin, signalling the onset of sleep. Warmth during the daytime encourages alertness and activity. The timing of meals can significantly impact our biorhythms. Regular meal patterns help reinforce the body's expectations of when to receive and digest food optimally. Finally, engaging in exercise during the day rather than close to bedtime reinforces healthy sleep onset and biorhythm alignment.
1. Aim to wake at a similar time each morning and start by stepping outside to bask in the early light. This will signal your internal clock that it's time to awaken. This ritual not only aligns your circadian rhythm, but offers an opportunity to set an intention for the day. Instead of going straight in for coffee upon waking which can disturb your biorhythms, rehydrate first and wait an hour or two before caffeinating. Listen to your body's needs - if it calls for extra focus and energy this day, add a tsp of True MCT to your morning cuppa.
2. Craft a ritual around regular mealtimes, savouring the flavours, textures and aromas of your food. As you nourish your body, honour the circadian rhythms by consuming larger, energy-rich meals during the daytime. Creating a calm environment for meals and avoiding heavy eating close to bedtime further supports alignment. Introduce an afternoon pause to get some fresh air to soak in natural daylight before dusk to reinvigorate your senses for the final part of the day. As evening approaches, transition into a calming evening ritual. Dim the lights, step away from screens and engage in activities that signal to your body that it's time to wind down. This can include reading, meditating, stretching or other activities that you find calming.Keep your bedroom dark, cool and clutter-free as you retreat for a deep and rejuvenating sleep.
3. While the challenges of aligning your biorhythms in the modern world are very real, infusing your day with rituals that honour these rhythms can anchor us back to the routines that our bodies crave. Each ritual acts as a note that contributes to the overall symphony of your biorhythm. As you align your internal clock with the natural world, you invite balance, vitality, and a deeper connection with yourself and the world around you.