Science & The Spirit


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Health Helps Part 18

By Dane and Vicki Griffin

King Solomon wrote: "To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven" (Ecclesiastes 3:1). Perhaps the wise king knew what we're just discovering today; that our body machinery also has seasons and times. In fact, a whole branch of study called, chronobiology, is dedicated to studying body rhythms. The body performs certain functions on a surprisingly regular basis over the 24-hour period. These activities make up what is called "circadian" or "biological" rhythms, and they have a powerful effect on our health and happiness. For example, scientists gave toxic drugs to animals at different times of the day. Most animals that got the drug at one time of day died. However, when the same drug and dose were given at another time, most of the animals survived.

Essential cycles

Because of the body's circadian rhythms, such things as body metabolism and temperature change throughout the day. This means that eating can cause more weight gain at certain times of the day. in one study, people ate exactly the same amount of the same food—but some ate only in the morning and some only at night. The dinner-only people tended to gain weight, but the breakfast-only people lost weight! Circadian rhythms not only influence body temperature and metabolism. They also effect heart rate, blood pressure, and hormone levels. For example, cortisol, a stress hormone, has the highest levels in the morning, and then lessens throughout the day. Body temperature and metabolism also decline in the early evening, to prepare us for rest. This is the way God planned it! "The sun ariseth.... Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening" (Psalm 104: 22, 23).

God also gave us the 7-day weekly cycle. he designed us to have periods of planned rest—not only every evening, but once a week on the seventh day! Our very physiology  demands that we cooperate!

Don't scrimp on sleep

Staying up late at night can "desynchronize," or unbalance, the circadian rhythms that govern sleep and other body functions. Nurses who work the late shift have been found to have disruptions in their temperature and heart rate. The disruption of the normal circadian rhythm also caused more fatigue and drowsiness, and even effected thier ability to think!

Many studies have shown that mood is directly related to circadian walking and sleeping cycles. For example, the more sleep we lose during the week the more problems we will have with mood, motivations, attentions, alertness, short-term memory, and the ability to finish what we start. in fact, our capacity to do all sorts of physical and mental activities will decrease!

Lark or owl?

To make the best use of your circadian rhythms, try an early-to-bed pattern of sleep, rather than a "night owl" routine. You'll experience better moods, easier learning, and quicker healing. For anyone fighting depression, this becomes doubly important: Studies with depressed patients have shown that early bedtime patterns results in better sleep and less depression.

Don't short stack your ZZZZ's!

Don't shortchange yourself by shortening your sleep. Remember: For healthy cycles, aim for right quality, timing, regularity, and quantity of sleep. And don't forget to have regular times for rising, eating, exercise, study, work, worship, and recreation. your body was designed to be on a schedule. Don't be a slave to chaos! Ask God to restore order, sleep, and sanity to your life!



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