Our Circadian Clock
Everything has a human, animal, and plant biological clock.
There are regular changes in melatonin secretion, body temperature, vascular changes and bowel changes among others. Hundreds of body functions are tied to the circadian rhythm. Circadian Rhythms affect sleep, digestion, heart, and lungs. Oriental medicine, describes each human to have energy called chi (pronounced “chee”).
The chi flows through every living thing. In the human body, chi flows along twelve meridians. Imagine if you will a ball of light to represent the chi and it has a continuous flow through one meridian and into the next one and then starts all over again. A continuous loop. Chi takes two hours to pass through each meridian, and the entire cycle takes 24 hours.
Chi can be disrupted. There are many imbalances that can occur -- too much energy, too little energy, imbalances from the right to the left side of the body, etc. Each of the twelve meridians is on a two hour time cycle within a 24 hour period. Each meridian is associated with an organ. Each organ and meridian have two hours where they are at their peek and two hours where they are at their downtime period.
Lifestyle habits can cause a distribution and so can your thoughts, traumas, dramas, reactions, limiting decision, beliefs and values. When camping, particularly after a few days, is how you begin going to sleep a few hours after sundown and wake up right around sunrise. At home we have lights, tv's, computers, stores that are open 24 hours and more to keep us stimulated and busy much later than we would in a natural setting.
The master body clock is known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) and it controlls the circadian. Using sleep as an example, our master clock receives information from the optic nerves about how much light is outside. As the SCN receives information that there is less light the brain is triggered to produce more melatonin so you can sleep. This is one of many reasons why people with trouble sleeping should not watch TV or use the computer before trying to go to sleep as they are too bright and too stimulating.
Lung Meridian And Asthma
The lung meridian has its peak energy from 3–5 a.m. Researchers have found that around 4 a.m., the adrenal hormones, adrenaline (or epinephrine) and cortisol, are at their lowest levels. These adrenal hormones are higher during waking hours to help regulate blood sugar levels, and are the same ones associated with the “fight or flight” mechanism.
These hormones also relax the airways, making breathing easier. From 4–6 a.m., when these airway-opening hormones are at their lowest levels, asthma attacks occur at a rate 100 times more often than at any other time of the day. Although there are numerous triggers for asthma attacks, research has shown that a high percentage of asthma sufferers experience breathing difficulties at night, and the majority of severe asthma attacks that result in death occur between midnight and 6 a.m.
Based on these findings, doctors around the world have seen improved results when they have their asthma patients take steroid medications in the early afternoon and their theophylline in the evenings.
Upon rising in the morning. When you quickly get up or your alarm shakes you awake. You sympathetic nervous system kicks in and your blood flow becomes restricted from the following. It triggers increases in cortisol, cathecholamines, serotonin, renin, aldosterone, angiotensin, and free radicals. These also increase blood pressure, and set the stage for more serious consequences. Try and use a gradual waking system, like a fade-in light or fade-in audio alarm. It's a much less traumatic way to awaken.
Based on studies of the circadian rhythm, doctor's know that the greatest risk of heart attack and stroke occurs in the hours just after awakening. According to Oriental medicine practitioners, the peak energy level in the heart meridian occurs between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Research shows most cardiovascular events take place between 6 a.m. and noon. This has been substantiated throughout numerous studies.
Researchers from Harvard Medical School reviewed more than 30 different studies over a 10-year period covering over 66,000 heart attacks. They found that 19,000 heart attacks, all of which resulted in sudden death, occurred during the morning.
Blood pressure shoots up again, even more rapidly, when you get out of bed and begin moving around. An instant demand is placed on the heart, which in turn requires additional oxygen. Platelets are stickier and more prone to clot and cause blockages in blood flow. If you’re like the large majority of individuals in the U.S., you have some degree of atherosclerosis, or clogging of the arteries, which increases the risk of early-morning stroke or heart attack. Circadian research has found that more than half of all transient ischemic attacks (TIAs) also occur between 6 a.m. and noon.
Start your day off as slow and calm as possible. The Sun never rushes to rise and always takes it's due time. The same when it sets. Be kind to your mind ... and to your body, day and night. If at all possible, even if you can't align with nature, go to bed at the same time every night and try and wake at the same time daily. Your body will perform much better, and so will your mind. Eventually, you'll be able to tell you mind what time you wish to wake, and it will wake you on it;s own with no alarm.
Just a thought ...
~Justin Taylor, ORDM., OCP., DM.