We have an inner biological pacemaker, known as the circadian clock. Circadian comes from the Latin circa (“about”) and diem (“a day”). This timekeeper, based on the daily cycles of light and dark influence many of our physiological rhythms and activities. SCN or suprachiasmatic nucleus is a tiny clock buried deep in the brain which paces body temperature, blood pressure heart rate, hormone levels, and sleep-waking times. It tells your brain’s pineal gland when to release melatonin to promote sleep, and when it should stop to help you awaken. As we talked about recently, SAD (seasonal affective disorder) which sprouts up in the winter for some people due to lower light levels is associated with our own personal circadian clock.
Distinguishing ourselves as “morning” or “night” people is something most of us do. Another name for a morning person is a lark. Larks typically wake up easily in the morning, feeling refreshed. Owls on the other hand struggle to get out of bed in the morning, and may prefer staying up late into the night. We all know who we are! Circadian research is a growing area of research, not only for charting why we are wired differently in terms of our sleep patterns, but also how time of day can affect chemotherapy, surgery and other treatments…..The Scientific American Day in the Life of your Brain by Judith Horstman