What is the body clock?

Everything you do in a day impacts your body, your health, and all of its facets.

The following are constantly communicating with your body’s circadian system:

  • Habits
  • Environment
  • Food and drink
  • Schedule

A tried-and-true researcher, Parisa Vidafar, PhD., breaks it all down.

The circadian system is the “master clock” of each individual human body and it plays one of the biggest roles in your health and wellness.

“It is the core clock that keeps all the other clocks in our bodies synchronized,” said Vidafar. “Our organs have their own body clock and they are all governed by this master clock.” The human body is complex, to say the least.

Tiny but mighty, our body clock “is about the size of a pinhead and there are about 20,000 neurons in it.”

“This clock has its own roughly 24-hour window.”

Did you know sleep is categorized as a behavior?

“Sleep is really just an output of the clock itself.”

What are the risks of sleep deprivation?

The astounding danger of sleep deprivation was solidified when the U.S. enacted a law which defined sleep deprivation as an illegal form of torture. The U.S. has indeed prosecuted military officials for these tactics. Sleep deprivation was used in World War II (in Japanese POW camps and commonly favored by the KGB).

In the 1960s, studies were performed in mines and participants would be left in caves without any external cues, such as light.

“They were able to determine when their body temperature increased or decreased, their cognitive functions had peaks and troughs; the study determined the circadian clock itself does not need cues from the environment as it kind of just oscillates on its own.”

Are you cuing the circadian system without realizing it?

“Food is a cue.” If you randomly wake up in the night and make a trek to the refrigerator (exposing yourself to the artificial light, consume a snack) you’ve just told your system, “We are awake now … deal with this issue.”

These disruptions carry over to your mental and physical health.

If you are eager for a good night’s sleep, then stop miscommunicating, giving false information to your body that it should be awake. Your body is trying to promote sleep, curb the mood to eat, and start the day at the right hour.

If you have a health-related question that I can ask an expert, submit it here.  

Dr. Vidafar works in the Department of Psychiatry and Sleep and Circadian Research Laboratory at University of Michigan.

This website does not provide medical advice. No material on this site is intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It is for informational purposes only.  Always seek the advice of a medical professional or other qualified health care provider on any health matter or question.

Have a health-related question?

Submit it here. I’ll ask an expert!

Join Healthier Bodies

You may opt out at any time. See Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Join Healthier Bodies

You may opt out at any time. See Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.

You have Successfully Subscribed!