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Do you ever find yourself lying in bed staring at the clock, unable to fall asleep? If this is a common occurence, it might be a sign of a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. Our sleep-wake cycle is regulated by our circadian rhythms, which affect our urges and behaviors throughout the day.
Anyone who has pulled an all-nighter or traveled across several time zones understands the negative consequences that accompany a lack of sleep. Chronic disruption of the body’s natural sleep cycle will throw off circadian rhythms, potentially causing weight gain, irritability, weak immune system, and impulsive behavior.
Circadian Rhythm Definition
Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral occurrences that follow a repetitive, daily cycle. The circadian rhythm definition is broad but should not be confused as the same process as our biological clock. Our biological clock, which is composed of specific molecules that interact in cells throughout the body, produces and regulates our circadian rhythms. It is an approximate 24-hour cycle.
Our biological clock, and therefore our circadian rhythm, are affected by environmental factors, like temperature and sunlight, and behavioral decisions, such as drinking caffeine or exercising. Studies have shown that brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities are influenced by circadian rhythms.
Negative Effects of Circadian Rhythm Sleep Disorder
Circadian rhythm sleep disorders stem from two different categories: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic disorders occur when a person’s natural body clock is substantially out of sync with societal norms. Extrinsic disorders occur when a person’s internal clock aligns with typical sleep-wake patterns but due to job schedule, school, or travel demand, their circadian rhythm is disrupted by their behavior.
Humans have a track record of overriding their circadian rhythm urges to sleep, opting to stay up late. Postponing bedtime to complete unfinished tasks or binge-watch a whole season of your favorite show can lead to serious consequences. When you force yourself to stay awake, it triggers the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, which can suppress your immune system. Circadian rhythm sleep disorders have also been linked to depression, bipolar disorder, diminished cognitive function, and reduced memory formation.
8 Risks of Disrupting Our Circadian Rhythm
Chronic sleep deprivation can escalate to a circadian rhythm sleep disorder. There are high risks associated with disrupting our circadian rhythms. Here are eight different effects of sleep deprivation on specific body functions and systems:
- Memory issues: Sleep is essential for your brain to process and store new information. Sleep deprivation will negatively affect your ability to recall short-term and long-term memories.
- Mood changes: Lack of sleep can cause a hormone imbalance that can make you feel irritable, emotional, and quick-tempered. If sleep deprivation continues, it can lead to anxiety or depression.
- Weakened immunity: Your body loses its ability to defend itself against viruses like the common cold and flu without enough rest. You’re more likely to become ill without proper sleep because your body’s antibody production decreases as it dedicates limited energy to other body processes.
- High blood pressure: The risk for high blood pressure increases if you consistently sleep less than five hours each night.
- Weight gain: The production of chemicals that signal to your brain that you are full are out of whack without enough rest.
- Accidents: The culmination of all sleep deprivation effects can lead to increased risk of accidents. Drowsiness during the day can cause car accidents or result in injuries that might not have occurred if you were better rested.
- Trouble with cognition and concentration: The brain’s concentration, creativity, and ability to problem solve decreases when you aren’t getting enough rest. You might feel confused or hazy trying to process information.
- Risk for diabetes and heart disease: A lack of sleep affects your body’s insulin production, a blood sugar-lowering hormone. Without enough rest, people have higher blood sugar levels which could lead to the development of diabetes. Increased blood pressure and higher levels of chemicals linked to inflammation are also negative effects of risk disrupting your circadian rhythm and can lead to heart disease.
Get in the rhythm of quality sleep.
The long-term mental and physical effects of sleep deprivation are detrimental. Everyone should have a sleep system, uniquely formed to fit their needs. A high-caliber mattress is the first step to deeper sleep and ensuring your circadian rhythms aren’t disturbed.
At Mattress Warehouse, sleep scientists find the perfect mattress for every individual based on their physical characteristics, back or joint pain and preferred sleep position. To circumvent a circadian rhythm sleep disorder, visit Mattress Warehouse to perfect your personalized sleep environment through the bedMATCH process. Get into the rhythm of better sleep.