Having come to the realization that everything affects our hormones, one of the best ways to start to address hormone health is to take a close look at our daily routines, and determine if we are doing all we can to preserve a normal circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a roughly 24-hour cycle and respond primarily to light and darkness in our environment.
Having a normal 24-hour rhythm is critical. Deterioration of the 24-hour rhythm is a risk factor for neurodegenerative disease, cancer, depression, and sleep disorders. Our very lifespan is dependent on our having adequate sleep. Age-related disease risk has been linked to short sleep duration and sleep disturbances. One night of partial sleep deprivation activates gene expression patterns consistent with biological aging in sleep deprived adults.
Circadian dysrhythmia, and the deterioration of the sleep cycle is associated with increased risks for depression, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, thyroid dysfunction, adrenal dysfunction, osteoporosis, sexual dysfunction, obesity, dysglycemia and diabetes, cardiovascular disease and cancers.
Inadequate sleep, and disruption of the circadian rhythm adversely effects every endocrine system. Low sex hormone levels, abnormal adrenal hormone levels, insulin disorders and low growth hormones can all be caused or worsened by circadian dysrhythmia.
The "master clock" that controls our circadian rhythms consists of a group of nerve cells in the brain called the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN). The SCN contains about 20,000 nerve cells and is located within the hypothalamus. The biological clock in the SCN of the hypothalamus plays a well-defined role in regulating melatonin production by the pineal.
Melatonin is primarily recognized as the circadian rhythm regulatory hormone that controls our sleep-wake cycles. In addition, melatonin is a hormone with neuroprotective, cardioprotective, anti-inflammatory, and antioxidant properties. Melatonin also plays a role in decreasing autoimmune disease, allergies and cancer. Its’ cardioprotective properties include the ability to decrease endothelial dysfunction and atherosclerosis as well as antiarrhythmic properties.
Through circadian reprogramming we can synchronize the neurons that control our biological clock. In fact, the synchronization of biological clock neurons by light and peripheral feedback systems promotes circadian rhythms and health.
By timing our exposure to light, our activity level, when we take certain nutrients, and when we sue certain herbs, we can reprogram our circadian rhythms and preserve the health of multiple systems.
In the morning, it is best to have bright light with green and blue colors. Think of a morning with a bright blue sky and a green field of grass. Those colors decrease melatonin production.
In the evening, dim light that has yellow and red colors. Think of a campfire – or even the incandescent lightbulbs that were replaced with the florescent bulbs (which have more blue light). In fact, wearing amber lenses that block blue light in the evening can be an effective and safe intervention for the people with delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD). DSPD is a circadian rhythm sleeping disorder in which people have a natural inclination to go to bed later and wake up later than what is typically considered normal.
Exercise in the AM, and calm activity in the evening preserve circadian rhythm. B vitamins that promote methylation (B12, B6, folic acid) can help break down melatonin in the AM. Taking Endocrine Complete™, the multi-nutrient formulated for hormone health, each morning can support of the circadian rhythm and the complete endocrine system.
Adaptogens that support the pituitary gland such as those used in AdrenoMend™ and TestoGain™, are best taken in the morning. Taking the mineral magnesium in the evening helps raise melatonin levels. Actually taking a Melatonin supplement is very beneficial.
A single dose of alcohol does not meaningfully alter circadian phase advances and phase delays to light in humans. However, higher dosages may significantly alter the circadian rhythm.
We can support hormone health every day by manipulating our environments to maintain a healthy circadian rhythm.
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 Ramkisoensing A, Meijer JH. Synchronization of Biological Clock Neurons by Light and Peripheral Feedback Systems Promotes Circadian Rhythms and Health. Front Neurol. 2015 Jun 5;6:128. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2015.00128. Review. PubMed PMID: 26097465
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