Circadian rhythms play a critical role in how fast we age.
Once the circadian rhythms are disrupted aging is accelerated.
A circadian rhythm is an approximately 24-hour cycle that regulates all of the physiological processes of living beings, including plants and animals.
There are clear patterns of:
- brain wave activity
- hormone production
- cell regeneration
- and other biological activities linked to this daily circadian cycle.
As anyone who has spent wakeful nights suffering from jet lag will attest, the human body has a strong sense of time. When this cycle is disrupted, like in jet lag, sleep disorders ensue.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders are caused by alterations of the circadian time-keeping system, its entrainment mechanisms, or a misalignment of the endogenous (internal) circadian rhythm and the external environment.
The AASM reports that the most common presenting symptoms of circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorders are difficulty initiating and maintaining sleep, and excessive sleepiness.
.Left untreated, these disorders can cause adverse health outcomes; impairments in social, occupational and educational performance; and safety concerns.
Long-term sleep loss may affect the cardiovascular, endocrine, immune, and nervous systems with severe consequences including hypertension, obesity, and mental health disorders, among others.
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s
Circadian rhythm disturbances are increasingly reported before the onset of Parkinson’s Disease, suggesting that they could be risk factors. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s are two diseases that are characterized by an impaired circadian clock and compromised mitochondrial function.
Mitochondria are small organelles that exist in almost all our cells and supply them with energy and play an important role in these cellular processes. Researchers have shown that the mitochondrial network loses its rhythm if the circadian clock is impaired, which causes a decline in energy production in the cells.
Our circadian clock sets the rhythm for our cells’ powerhouses..