Explaining My Circadian Rhythm
Columbia Southern University
Explaining of My Circadian Rhythm
Circadian rhythm is basically a 24-hour internal clock that is running in the background of your brain and cycles between sleepiness and alertness at regular intervals (NSF, 2019). Circadian rhythms are controlled by a biological clock, or overall coordinator, located in a tiny cluster of cells in the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (Wade & Tavris, 2017). Circadian rhythm has more of a grip on people’s actions than they think. Understanding the factors of circadian rhythm is often given far less attention than it should. In today’s society, people of all types try to get and stay in shape by eating healthy, exercising, and many other creative ways. Most people have no idea that simply keeping a constant routine, that fosters a healthy circadian rhythm, can be far more beneficial than some crazy health gimmick. I was completely shocked to learn that by drinking coffee in the morning, I might actually be making it more difficult on myself to get my day going.
After conducting the study in the assignment in which we monitor our mental alertness every hour for three days, I was shocked at how many lulls I had in my circadian rhythm! I had three major low points in my alertness at the same time on all three days. At around 9am, 1pm, and again at 6:30pm my body went through what I call a crash. They were all 3 given a score of 1 from the grading scale from the assignment. I was literally forcing myself to keep my eyes open. I know that I don’t get very much sleep. I wake up at 4:50am and don’t usually get to bed until midnight, so I was prepared for a few occasions of drowsiness, but the consistency in the times was absolutely a surprise to me. I would say that my highs were consistent also, but not nearly as intense. I was somewhat alert in the morning after I got to work at 6:15am and again at 5:15pm when I got home, but the highs were slight and I would rate them both as 4’s on the grading scale from the assignment. I think if I were to perform this study during the weekend it would look completely different. I often sleep from around 1 or 2am, until 10 or 11am. The obvious sign that there would be differences is the number of hours slept and the fact that my first high point and low point occurred while I would typically still be asleep. I also assume that when I’m at home or out doing what I enjoy, my stress level is down which might create fewer highs and lows.
The four factors I think might control my life perception are; the amount of sleep I get at night, the rising and setting of the sun, the stress level I’m at during my low points, and my appetite and digestion cycle throughout the day. I typically get to work right as the sun is coming up, which might explain my first high point. Two of my three low points occurred at work during my peek work hours, which lends to the idea that stress has an effect on my low points. I assume these lows were also in relation to my food intake occurring just prior. I can see now that my perception of the world around me and my circadian rhythm literally go hand-in-hand. I appreciate the differences in my circadian rhythm a lot more now, and I really am going to do my best to get more sleep during the week and try better to make my weekend sleep patterns look more like my patterns during the week. I thought I knew what a circadian rhythm was before this week, but now I realize I only knew of it…not about it, and I fully understand the importance of keeping a healthy circadian rhythm.
National Sleep Foundation (NFS) (2019). What is Circadian Rhythm?
Retrieved from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/what-circadian-rhythm
Wade, C., & Tavris, C. (2017). Psychology (12th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson.
Retrieved from https://online.vitalsource.com/#/books/9781323598269