Circadian rhythms are a group of biological rhythms found in the human body and nearly all creatures on Earth that cycle on a near-24-hour clock. Most creatures are regularly exposed to changes in their environment, such as light, temperature and food. Organisms ranging from fungi and bacteria, to plants and mammals have daily biological processes and physiological rhythms to better adapt to these precise and regular alterations.
Furthermore, the female reproductive system comprises several organs that secrete hormones, develop female traits and accomplish conception. Let’s discuss how optimizing the body’s vital functions, known as the circadian rhythm, can improve women’s health.
What is the circadian rhythm?
The circadian rhythm is the body’s natural timing mechanism. It regulates sleep-wake cycles, hormone releases, eating patterns and more. A circadian rhythm is not limited to humans. All living species—animals, plants, fungi and cyanobacteria have one.
These rhythms are produced from a core of biological clocks found in virtually every cell of the human body and are controlled by a “master clock” in the brain. This primary circadian clock comprises neurons in the hypothalamus called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which helps our bodies coordinate functions dependent on the time of day.
This is how the body understands when to wake up, sleep and so on. Finally, circadian rhythms are physiological and behavioral changes that occur daily and affect essential human systems, including hormone release, temperature, eating habits, digestion, mood and sleep.
What is the significance of these cycles in women’s health?
The sleep-wake cycle is the most well-known circadian rhythm. This is a light-related rhythm that naturally corresponds to the external light-dark cycle of the environment. The Sleep -wake-cycle regulates the synthesis of melatonin and cortisol using information about incoming light. If coordinated, we sleep well, have consistent energy throughout the day and maintain an appropriate hunger-satiation balance.
Chronobiology, or the study of circadian rhythms, and a growing number of health studies, link to circadian rhythm disruption. It’s critical to remember that our experience of time is genetically set. Regardless of how much light we receive during the day or the temperature, we will adhere to a natural 24-hour pattern, though some individual rhythms may deviate.
Because women experience insomnia at roughly double the prevalence of males. These investigations suggest that variations in our internal clocks influence discrepancies. One piece of research discovered that women had a shorter intrinsic circadian period and were more prone than males to experience biological days that were less than 24 hours, with a difference of six minutes on average.
A more recent study, conducted in 2016, indicated that women sleep and wake up about two hours earlier than men, thus putting women in a distinct time zone. One of the first to account for oral contraceptive usage and menstrual cycle phase, this study found improvements in women’s body temperature, sleep and alertness cycles. This shows that women are more susceptible to sleep and wake problems caused by circadian variation.
Fertility and circadian rhythms:
The interruption of circadian timing in animal models reduced fertility and early gestational problems due to genetic modification. A 2016 systematic analysis illustrates how clock gene CRD (Circadian Rhythm Disruption) mutations disrupt the pre-ovulatory luteinizing hormone, or LH, surge and other hormonal profiles, affecting animal fertility. Furthermore, in numerous investigations, strong light therapy matching the natural light-dark cycle altered the ovulatory cycle, boosting prolactin levels, follicle-stimulating hormone, or FSH, and LH production.
A 2014 meta-analysis of 15 studies involving more than 100,000 women discovered that shift workers had a higher prevalence of infertility — roughly 11% — and a higher rate of menstrual irregularity — almost 12%. Although there are several avenues via which circadian rhythms and sleep might influence fertility, data suggests that CRD has the potential to influence conception. (Sleep, Circadian Rhythms, and Fertility | SpringerLink)
Menopause and circadian rhythms:
Many women going through menopause frequently have sleepless nights. This is partly due to lower levels of hormones such as estrogen and progesterone, both of which have sleep-protective properties. On the other hand, insomnia related to menopause is impacted by lower levels of melatonin. which is proven to decline with age, particularly as women approach menopause.
As previously stated, our circadian rhythms have a significant influence on melatonin production. Experts propose that disruption of the circadian system is of significant relevance, both in terms of sleep-disturbing symptoms and the direct impairment of sleep regulation in menopausal and postmenopausal women.
It also shows that a decrease in melatonin is linked to an increased risk of breast cancer. This risk increases in night shift employment, probably due to melatonin suppression. Attempting to correct circadian cycles is an effective strategy to increase melatonin release naturally.
Day and night, hormones:
Humans are diurnal, which implies that they are up and active throughout the day and sleep at night. So, this is the inverse of being nocturnal, or active at night, and resting during the day. Moreover, two primary hormones impact an individual’s alertness and sleepiness.
Melatonin is a hormone that peaks at night with via the pineal gland. Melatonin is necessary for good circadian cycles because it prevents phase shifts, increases total sleep time and inhibits arousal.
Cortisol, another hormone generated from the adrenal gland, has the opposite effect of melatonin. The SCN regulates cortisol via the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, or HPA. This hormone is lowest at night and begins to rise in the morning, telling the body to wake up.
What can women do to realign their circadian clocks and harvest the benefits of being in sync with their natural circadian cycles?
Liv24 works with you to reset your circadian rhythm to address health concerns. Liv24 provides red light treatment, cold plunge therapy, Styku services and more. The overarching goal of these programs is to improve overall health. Click here to learn more about our services.
To conclude, getting eight to ten hours of sleep per night is one of the best ways to begin resetting the circadian rhythm. This is especially true for women. Understanding how sleep works is the first step to maximizing sleep quality.