Saturday, April 27, 2013

Is your Biological Clock ticking?

By Nurse Diane

My husband loved the movie "My Cousin Vinny".  It is the story of two young men who are mistakenly arrested for the murder of a gas station owner, can call their New York lawyer cousin to come down south to represent them.   In one of my favorite scenes of this movie, Vinny's girlfriend is worried that their relationship isn't going anywhere and her biological clock is ticking!  To watch this scene, click here:
The biological clock she is referring to is the chance she will have to get pregnant, as she fears she is getting to old to reproduce.

Our biological clock is also known as circadian rhythm.  Not only does it control the times for ovulation, but it also works as an internal regulator responsible for various cyclical responses in living things. Both plants and animals show yearly, monthly, daily, and other rhythmic changes that appear to be genetically programmed.  According to, most cyclical responses occur at approximately the same time as changes in such external factors as light and temperature, suggesting that they are somehow caused by these external changes. Many of the seasonal changes in animals and plants are influenced by changes in day length. For instance, the decreasing amount of daylight in the fall triggers internal changes in some species of birds, causing them to migrate. Germination and flowering of plants generally occurs in the spring and summer when there is more daylight. However, experiments have shown that external factors are not always involved. For example, fiddler crabs in their natural habitat become darker in the morning, lighter in the evening. Yet when they are placed under constant environmental conditions (such as constant light) the daily rhythm of their color changes persist.
Scientists generally believe that various circadian rhythms are controlled by different mechanisms. For instance, many cycles respond to both external and internal stimuli, some cycles respond to external stimuli only, and a small number respond to internal stimuli alone.
There are many changes such as the ebb and flow of the tides, changing of locations, and personal habits such as work hours that affect the circadian rhythm.  When I worked nights at the hospital, my body had to adjust to the change of wake and sleep.  This was particularly hard when my work schedule changed from days to nights and back to days.  This is a common problem with people who work shift work, and it normally takes about two weeks for the body to adjust.  Another type of adjustment is traveling in different time zones, this is where the term, jet lag comes in.

Today is Biological Clock day.  The site suggest these tips to help celebrate the day:
Maintain a healthy sleep-wake program by:

  • Not napping if you find that it throws you off in the evening.
  • Getting up at the same time every day.
  • Being strict about your sleep schedule and creating a relaxing bedtime routine.

Trying light therapy. This should only be done under a doctor’s care to ensure that you are not creating additional issues.
Avoiding night-light. When possible, avoid bright and outdoor light close to bedtime and keep your surroundings as dark as possible at night. Cover the lights of your alarm clock, so that you are not tempted to look at it or have its glow disrupt your sleep.
Avoid eating or exercising too close to bedtime. Also watch out for caffeine and nicotine, both of which are stimulants.
When traveling to different time zoneslook for natural ways to align your new sleep-wake schedule with the time zone that you are in. Some strategies require you to start several days before you take off the ground, so plan ahead.
(All images from Google) 

1 comment:

  1. I think the batteries in my clock are drained!