Sleep and Your Circadian Rhythm: How it Impacts Aging

Sleep and Your Circadian Rhythm: How it Impacts Aging


Sleep and the circadian rhythm are intimately linked. The circadian rhythm is a natural cycle that regulates sleep, food intake, and body temperature. When you are not getting enough sleep, your body’s biological clock is thrown off balance, impacting your aging process.

Most of us are familiar with circadian rhythm, which refers to the natural tendencies of the body's internal clock or circadian rhythm. The basic idea is that our bodies naturally experience a variety of bodily rhythms, including sleep, eating, and activity levels. These rhythms are based on our daily patterns of sunlight and darkness exposure and can be impacted by various factors, such as stress and jet lag.

Moreover, sleep and circadian rhythms are two of the most significant factors that impact aging. Sleep deprivation has been linked to a decreased immune system function, increased risk for heart disease, diabetes and obesity, and cognitive decline. Chronically disrupted sleep patterns can also lead to mood swings, reduced stress tolerance, decreased productivity, and overall feelings of fatigue. Proper sleep is essential for maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm and overall health.

We all know that getting enough sleep is essential for good health. But did you know that a healthy circadian rhythm can also help you have a longer, healthier life? This article will share what a circadian rhythm is, and how to improve your sleep quality, leading to graceful aging.

 

What is the Circadian Rhythm?


The circadian rhythm is a biological process that refers to the natural body clock governing the timing of the body's internal activities throughout the day. The SCN (suprachiasmatic nuclei) controls the circadian rhythm in the hypothalamus. The SCN communicates with other brain parts to keep track of time and adjust various bodily functions accordingly.

This 24-hour cycle is primarily determined by environmental and lifestyle factors, such as sunlight exposure and sleep quality varying from person to person affecting everything from mood to metabolism. Abnormalities in normal circadian rhythm can lead to health problems.

The National Sleep Foundation has found that people who follow a regular sleep schedule are more alert and productive in the morning hours and are less likely to experience problems such as obesity or diabetes.

The circadian rhythms change throughout our lifespan, from infancy through to adulthood, and can play a role in how we feel, think, and act.

There are two critical types of circadian rhythms:

  • Nocturnal circadian rhythms.
  • Diurnal circadian rhythms.

Nocturnal rhythms are active during the night, while diurnal rhythms are active during the day. Each type has its own set of characteristics that can affect our mood, energy level, and ability to sleep.

 

How Does the Circadian Rhythm Change with Time?

The average person's circadian rhythm changes with time. This means that the body's natural sleep/wake cycle is shifted by about one hour each day as someone becomes older. In young adulthood, the average person has a 24-hour rhythm roughly in alignment with the Earth's 24-hour rotation. 

However, as people age, their natural sleep/wake cycle gradually shifts towards aligning with the Earth's 12-hour rotation. As a result, by the mid-20s, most people have a daily rhythm that is nine hours out of sync with the Earth's orbit. Eventually, this misalignment becomes permanent, and people enter into what is known as the advanced phase, or advanced phase insomnia (AP). 

 

What is the Science Behind Sleep, Aging, and Your Circadian Rhythms?

The science of sleep, aging, and circadian rhythms is complex and still largely unknown. It may be a combination of environmental and biological factors, but research is gradually shedding light on these topics.

Clock genes are likely to lose circadian rhythms or change with different genes as we age due to less effective circadian rhythms. It is actually clock genes that we can attribute a large portion of the regularity of our circadian rhythms. According to one study, volunteers in isolation, without any cues as to what time it is, still sleep at regular intervals and show bodily changes that cue signs of sleep preparations, such as core body temperature changes.

A study published in The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences found that people over 65 have a weaker SCN (sleep-wake) rhythm than those under 30. This can lead to fluctuations in mood and energy levels. If you're experiencing sleeping problems or feeling tired throughout the day, it may be because your circadian rhythm is out of balance. 

Another consideration is when it’s during daylight hours, your body tends to be active; also meanwhile your body tends to be recuperative and inactive during the night. This works through hormones called "melatonin" and "cortisol." When these hormones are released at certain times of the day (usually in the evening), they help reset your body's clock so that everything runs smoothly.

 

How to Best Deal With Changing Circadian Rhythms as Time Passes?

Every person has a natural sleep rhythm. As time passes, this rhythm can shift. This can challenge people who are used to following a sleep pattern, as sleep may come less easily. There are several ways to deal with changing circadian rhythms. 

Some people find it helpful to shift their sleeping patterns gradually. This means changing the time they go to bed and wake up each day progressively. Slowly adjusting to a new schedule can help ease any tension or anxiety associated with the change. 

Other people find it easier to adjust their sleep schedule, which means going to bed and waking up at the same time every day for weeks or months. It's essential to remember that this type of adjustment may be more difficult if you're used to following a traditional sleep pattern.

Here are a few tips on how to best deal with changing circadian rhythms: 

  • First, accept that change is inevitable. Most people adapt pretty well to their new sleep/wake schedule once they get used to it. 
  • Shift your sleeping pattern gradually.
  • Make your body prepared for the changes coming with age by adding several supplements into your diet that help keep your cortisol and melanin levels checked.
  • But if the change is too significant or too sudden, our bodies may experience symptoms such as fatigue, irritability, difficulty concentrating, and even migraines. In these cases, it may be helpful to consult with a doctor who can help us create a plan for adapting to the new rhythm.

    Are There Ways to Alter a Circadian Rhythm?

    There are a few ways to naturally alter your circadian rhythm, such as:

    • Waking up at the same time every day, as a steady sleep schedule will slowly reset your circadian rhythm. If you find you're unable to fall asleep at the prescribed time, still wake up when your alarm goes off as this will train your body to adapt to the new sleeping pattern.
    • Using bright lights as a form of sleep therapy can help shift circadian rhythms naturally as they can reorient the body’s rhythms with continual and consistent use. They are ideal for people with shifts at late or early times of the day.
    • Supplements, such as magnesium and apigenin, as they help to improve your sleep quality and can improve insomnia.

    How Does Apigenin Impact Sleep Quality and Circadian Rhythms?

    Apigenin, found at Longevity Box, is a flavonoid found in many plants and common in tea. It has been shown to improve sleep quality and circadian rhythms by increasing the time participants are asleep for. This benefits people of all ages, as long, uninterrupted sleep, has been shown to reduce the risk of sleep-related disorders and chronic diseases such as obesity, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes. 

    In addition to improving sleep quality, apigenin has also been shown to regulate circadian rhythms as it can act on both the central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral nervous system (PNS) to improve the circadian rhythm. This suggests that apigenin could be a promising agent for treating problems such as disrupted sleep.

    What Is The Recommended Apigenin Intake?

    The recommended initial apigenin dose should not exceed one gram per day. Take this amount with a glass of water or a meal, and if you are looking to use apigenin for sleep benefits, take it 45-60 minutes before sleep.

    Similarly, a higher apigenin dose should not exceed 2 grams a day.

    What are Some Extra Benefits of Apigenin?

    Scientists are still determining the full range of benefits apigenin has on the body. Still, preliminary research suggests it may have anti-inflammatory, anticancer, cognitive, and other potential health benefits such as:

    • Heart health. 
    • Decrease LDL cholesterol levels.
    • Promoting healthy blood vessel function.
    • Reducing anxiety and stress levels.
    • Reducing inflammation.
    • Preventing cancer.
    • Apigenin is a powerful antioxidant that helps protect cells from damage caused by free radicals.
    • It also helps improve blood circulation and reduce the risk of blood clots.
    • Apigenin may help improve cognitive function and memory.

    How Does Magnesium Impact Sleep Quality and Circadian Rhythms?

    Magnesium, found on Longevity Box, is one of the most common minerals in the human body and is essential for many metabolic processes. Interestingly, it has been shown to play a role in sleep quality and circadian rhythms, according to this article

    In particular, magnesium has been found to improve sleep quality by promoting relaxation and decreasing anxiety. Studies have also shown that magnesium can help regulate the body's natural circadian rhythm. 

    Magnesium helps strengthen the neural connections in the brain responsible for regulating sleep cycles. As a result, it can help keep the body’s biological clock running on schedule, which can be essential for maintaining healthy eating habits and regular exercise patterns.

    Magnesium also helps regulate circadian rhythms, which can disrupt people with insomnia. In addition, magnesium supplements have been shown to improve sleep quality and duration and daytime alertness and mood. Magnesium is also beneficial for people with anxiety disorders, often plagued by poor sleep.

    These findings suggest that magnesium may be an essential mineral for optimizing sleep quality and overall health.

    What is the Recommended Magnesium Intake?

    If you are just starting with magnesium supplements, take 0.5 grams of it per day, with water, at any time of day.

    Similarly, a higher magnesium dose should not exceed grams per day.

    What are Some Extra Benefits of Magnesium?

    Magnesium is an essential mineral for human health. In addition to its role as a cofactor in over 300 enzymes, magnesium helps:

    • Maintain muscle and nerve function.
    • Regulates blood pressure.
    • And plays a role in energy production. 

    Recent research has found that magnesium can also positively affect human health beyond those listed above. Here are some of the considerable benefits that Magnesium provides: 

    • Magnesium can help improve cognitive function - People with lower magnesium levels are more likely to experience memory and thinking skills problems. Magnesium may protect the brain against damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation. 
    • Magnesium can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms - Magnesium can help reduce anxiety and depression symptoms by activating the serotonin transporter. Low serotonin levels are associated with anxiety and depression, so magnesium can help increase serotonin levels, which can, in turn, improve mood and relieve symptoms. 
    • Treat Inflammatory diseases - Magnesium is beneficial for treating inflammatory diseases, such as arthritis, Crohn’s disease, and multiple sclerosis. Magnesium can help to reduce inflammation and pain, improve blood flow, and calm the nerves. 
    • Help your body produce proteins - Magnesium deficiency can lead to several health conditions, including muscle weakness and fatigue, heart disease, and stroke. Magnesium is the most common nutrient deficiency in the world. 

    A study found that people who consumed the most magnesium had a 35% lower risk of death from all causes. Aside from its role in protein production, magnesium also supports nerve function and contributes to energy production. 

    • Provide many advantages to the skin, such as:
      • Protection from free radicals.
      • Reduction hyperpigmentation.
      • Enhanced collagen formation.
      • Hydrating the skin.
    • Help you regulate healthy sugar levels - A study found that participants who supplemented with magnesium; with lower blood sugar levels than those who did not, found an increase in healthy sugar levels. This was likely since magnesium helps balance insulin resistance and improves the body's ability to use glucose for energy.

    Conclusion

    Circadian rhythms change with age and are also affected by external factors, such as sleeping habits. It’s essential to keep your circadian rhythm in check, as disruptions can lead to health problems. There are many ways to accomplish this, such as exercise, consistent sleep schedules, and taking supplements like magnesium and apigenin.