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Science continues to confirm our need to live in harmony with nature’s clock, called the circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythm exhibits a 24-hour variation in the body and behavior, such as hormone levels, metabolism, gene expression, sleep and wakefulness, and appetite. (1) Disruption of circadian rhythm has been associated with various health concerns, including cancers, cognition, sleep and weight issues, heart problems and more. (1,2,3)
According to Ayurveda, a lifestyle in rhythm with nature’s cycles is the foundation for optimal health, spirituality and longevity. Disturbed sleep cycles are one of the most common ways in which we disconnect the body’s internal clocks from the circadian rhythms of nature. (3) Stress, excessive behaviors, over-exercising or lack of exercise, jet lag, poor diet, and not being in nature are a few more of the most common causes of a disruption of the natural cycles.
The reality is that most of us are “guilty as charged” in at least one of these circadian-disrupting activities. However, it is never too late to reset a healthy lifestyle and offset the potential risks from an unhealthy one. A new study shows that once we get back into living a lifestyle in sync with the circadian clock, good things happen.
In a 2016 study published in the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), women who worked rotating night shifts were at a greater risk for blood sugar issues and heart health concerns. (4) The risk ranged from 15 to 18 percent higher, compared to women who did not work night shifts. Rotating night shift work did not require as many night shifts as you might assume. Rotating night shift work was defined as three or more night shifts per month, in addition to day and evening shifts. (4)
The good news is the JAMA study suggested that when these women stopped working night shifts, their heart health risk decreased over time. (4) This study makes the case that if you have to work night shift work, try to make it a short-term, rather than a career-term plan.
Night Shift, Long Hours and Travel Survival Solutions
If you must work nights or fly cross-country or internationally on a regular basis, or find yourself over-stressed, over-worked, exhausted and too busy to relax, be sure that you find time to move your body, as simple as a walk in nature, and consider some of the following solutions.
- Meditation: Try my free One Minute Meditation. Meditation has been shown to support healthy sleep and reduce circadian-related stress. (6)
- Exercise: Learn my nasal breathing exercise techniques. Exercise has been shown to support the balancing of circadian rhythms in the body. (5)
- Be in nature. Studies show that women who spend more time in nature live 12 percent longer. (7,8)
- Bacopa monnieri has been shown to support healthy circadian rhythms when under oxidative stress. (9)
- Ashwagandha has been shown in numerous studies to protect the nervous system from the ravages of stress. (10)
Perhaps the most powerful tool is lifestyle itself. Learn more about a healthy Ayurvedic lifestyle in sync with the circadian rhythms in my article, “Live with the Natural Cycles.”
Also, you can experience an Ayurvedic lifestyle first hand by taking my 28-day Ayurveda Challenge.