What is the Circadian Rhythm? (Final Part)

By Sheila Kun RN, BSN, MS, CPN, FCCP

Impact of Modern Technology

The blue light emitted by mobile phones, TVs, and tablets mimics the blue we see in the sky during the daytime. Our bodies have evolved to be awake during the day, so our brains release the hormone cortisol when we see blue-ish light. Cortisol wakes up the brain, making us alert and active. However, if you are browsing the internet or watching TV before bed, the brain cannot distinguish between the natural blue of daylight and the artificial blue of screens. Looking at screens up to an hour before bedtime can increase cortisol levels and reduce the effectiveness of the sleep hormone melatonin on your brain. As a result, we may have difficulty sleeping or experience lower-quality sleep, leaving us tired the next day.

The Importance of Sleep Hygiene

Sleep hygiene describes good habits that improve the quality of sleep. The stress of modern life and the use of electronic devices before bed mean more people are waking up feeling tired; their circadian rhythms are struggling to cope with the unnatural sequence of our modern lives. Furthermore, working indoors with little exposure to natural light tricks the body into thinking it is nighttime. Over time, exposure to these factors can create circadian rhythm disorders and larger health issues.

A good image of the damaging effects of chronic sleep problems is copied from the Stopaging.com


Sheila’s note: this concludes our circadian rhythm series. Next week we will explore a very important topic that affects us all: sleep.

Your homework from the Care Ministry this week: Ask yourself if you have sleeping problems and be prepared to look into the sleep series ahead.

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