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Circadian Health

Friday, July 2nd 2021 10:00am 8 min read
Dr. Jessica Peatross dr.jess.md @drjessmd

Hospitalist & top functional MD who gets to the root cause. Stealth infection & environmental toxicity keynote speaker.

Are you sleeping well at night? Americans seem to be obsessed with sleep, although many of us fail to get adequate sleep. Lack of sleep can negatively impact your overall health. The marketplace offers a plethora of sleep aids from OTC medications and CBD to smart mattresses and weighted blankets. The sleep market in America exceeds $432 billion in sales annually. And, we have created an increase in “orthosomnia,” which is unhealthy anxiety over our sleep problems. We worry about sleep so much that we have anxiety that interferes with our sleep!

With all of these sleep aids, why do so many Americans fail to get adequate amounts of good sleep? They focus on sleep rather than the actual facts about circadian biology. Humans are highly sensitive to the 24-hour solar cycle and need regular exposure to natural light and dark.

Most organisms have internal daily clocks that control the biological processes in our bodies. This includes the sleep/wake cycles, our moods, and the performance of our immune, metabolic, and reproductive systems.

The foundation of circadian rhythm science is that exposure to the natural light/dark cycles gives our systems the cues necessary to reset the internal clock daily. It helps determine the quality of our sleep and affects us down to the cellular level. We need the sun’s blue light in the day to be alert and active, and we need darkness to initiate our brain’s sleep mode.

However, our modern lives with artificial lights and constant screen time disrupts our natural circadian rhythm. In addition, more people work at night. Around 20% of Americans work the night shift. The 24/7 availability of services has many of us working against our natural internal clocks. Light pollution at night is a very real problem.

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