I am writing this 35,000 feet up in the air, on the first day of the new year. I am ready for the jet lag – I know it’s coming! But jet lag doesn’t just disturb my sleeping and eating patterns: changes in my body clock also disturb my immune system.
Research has documented that people who work the night shift and those who are frequent fliers have a higher rate of inflammatory diseases compared to the rest of us.
New research on mice, published in Science, showed that a specific immune cell associated with inflammation, depends on the daily cycles of dark and light to function correctly. Mice who were exposed to a 6 hour shift in their light/dark cycle had increased levels of inflammatory cells present in their intestines compared to normal, similar to mice who were genetically engineered to lack that cell.
The implication for this is huge: most of us no longer rise when the sun comes up and sleep when the sun sets. We allow our bodies to soak up huge amounts of artificial light which may predispose us to inflammatory disorders. There is already evidence tying our body clock to mood disorders, sleep patterns and changes in metabolism. By constantly disrupting our natural light/dark cycles we may be fundamentally altering our immunological function: our bodies natural way of fighting disease.
So, as 2014 begins, consider your circadian rhythm, your internal clock, which is synced with the sun and it’s natural cycle. Follow the wisdom of old: rise with the sun and sleep in the dark. Wake and sleep at the dame time every day – your body likes the routine and will thrives well. Create a bedtime routine that sends your brain the message that you are winding down for the day. Perhaps drink a mug of warm spiced milk and take a bath. Rub your body with soothing oils and then sit and meditate. Following the same pattern every night will help you sleep.
Peace & happiness in 2014
©Tamsin Astor-Jack, Yoga Brained LLC