We are all biologically programmed to be active during the day and to sleep at night. Each individual has a body clock, and this clock regulates the body’s circadian rhythm.
Our circadian rhythms are synchronized to the traditional pattern of daytime wakefulness and night-time sleep. Namely, this complex timekeeper is controlled by an area of the brain that responds to light, which is why we are most alert while the sun is shining and are ready to sleep when it’s dark outside.
The body clock makes a person sleepy or alert on a regular schedule whether they are working or not. In normal conditions, the sleep/wake cycle follows a 24-hour rhythm; however, the cycle is not the same for everyone.
Paying attention to the body’s natural rhythms is probably more important to our health than we realize. It’s not just sleep deprivation that affects our well-being; disrupting our body’s natural cycles may affect mood, mental alertness, hunger, and heart function. However, there are many other reasons our bodies’ clocks can lose control, which probably involve a combination of genetic predisposition and lifestyle choice.
In light of the above, the suggested tips on the right page aim to assist in keeping our circadian rhythm balanced by halting bad habits that can disrupt it and establishing better ones that will support it.
Did you know?
- Electronic devices that emit blue light can delay the onset of sleep
- If the time of sleep is out of synchronization with a person’s body clock, it is difficult to sleep properly
- Fatigue is most likely and severe in the early hours of the morning – between 3 and 5 a.m
- When someone is sleep-deprived, a circadian low point will further exacerbate the feeling of sleepiness.
- Irregular schedules caused by shifting rotations, crossing time zones, etc. cause the circadian rhythms to be out of synchronization
- Seafarers working through the night may be at a higher risk of fatigue and have to make additional effort to maintain alertness and performance.
- Seafarers may be fatigued at the start of their work period, as they adapt to their sleep routine
- Fatigue has been found to be a contributing cause in incidents that mainly occur between midnight and 6 a.m.