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Circadian Rhythm: How An Inner Clock Connects Your Body With the Cosmos
It may seem like we are individual bodies wandering randomly through our earthly environment, but in fact, our bodies are closely regulated by an inner clock taking cues from the cosmos.
The results of this cosmic connection are “circadian rhythms,” the 24-hour cycle of biological processes that have been widely observed in plants, animals, fungi, and even cyanobacteria.
This natural, internal process regulates the sleep–wake cycle and repeats on each rotation of the Earth roughly every 24 hours. It synchronizes the body of the organism with the daily cycle of the sun and can refer to any of the 24-hour rhythms that are driven by the circadian clock.
The term circadian comes from the Latin circa, meaning "approximately", and diēm, meaning "day". The formal study of biological rhythms—including daily, tidal, weekly, seasonal, and annual rhythms—is called chronobiology.
Chronobiology studies variations of the timing and duration of biological activity in living organisms, which occur for many essential biological processes. In most living organisms, internally synchronized circadian clocks make it possible for the organism to anticipate daily environmental changes corresponding with the day-night cycle and adjust its biology and behavior accordingly. Circadian oscillators are ubiquitous in tissues of the body where they are synchronized by both internal and external signals to regulate activity throughout the day in a tissue-specific manner.
When a normal human body it receives sufficient daily corrective signals from the environment, primarily daylight and darkness, it entrains with a period of exactly 24 hours. When a body is taken away from external cues (such as environmental light), it does not run to exactly 24 hours. This is why it is important, for the most part, to keep your body in a similar pattern of light from day to day for optimum function.
Chronobiology.com has a lot of information about circadian rhythm and other aspects of the human body’s inner clock. Understanding chronobiology can give us fundamental clues about how Nature is regulating our bodies 24-hours a day.