Although scientists haven't
nailed down all the factors involved, the most important
factor they've identified for keeping your CR in balance
is sunlight. CR is what helps keep your body alert during
daylight hours and then helps you relax when night starts
to fall so you'll be able to sleep. It's also your CR that
wakes you up in the morning on time, even on days when you
forgot to set your alarm the night before.
One of the best ways to maintain a healthy CR is to make
sure your home has lots of sunlight. If you find yourself
feeling somewhat out of sorts or down for no particular
reason, it may be that your body is craving sunlight. A
simple thing like opening the drapes and letting the
sunshine in may help rebalance your CR.
A widespread sleep disorder called Seasonal Affective
Disorder (SAD) has been found to be caused by a disruption
in people's CR. Sometimes called the "Winter Blahs," SAD
is felt most acutely during the winter months, when
there's less sunlight available. This is especially
noticeable in people who live in northern areas of the
world, where the amount of sunlight decreases
significantly during winter months, or in areas such as
the Pacific Northwest, where there's a great deal of rain.
Depression and sleeping difficulty are the most common
effects of SAD, and it can be severe enough to cause
sufferers to become suicidal.
Scientists have discovered that your CR is regulated by
your body's production of a compound known as melatonin,
which is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland, located
between the two hemispheres of your brain. If you've been
experiencing sleep difficulties, it would be worthwhile to
check your melatonin level. There are melatonin
supplements available over the counter, but if they don't
seem to help, ask your doctor about other alternatives
that may be available.
Research in CR is ongoing, but you can take the first
steps toward balancing your own CR by bringing plenty of
sunlight into your home and by doing your best to try to
maintain a regular schedule, including going to bed and
getting up at essentially the same time every day. Keeping
a strict routine may be difficult, but opening the
curtains in your home is easy, and it will go a long way
toward helping keep your circadian rhythm in balance.
Copyright © 2006 Jeanette J. Fisher
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