▲The ways how to fix a disrupted biological rhythm. (Source of icons: Adobe Stock)
In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the government has encouraged social distancing since March. Elementary schools, middle schools, high schools, and even universities have started the new semester online. Some companies have employees working from home. Going to restaurants, bars, and going on trips are activities that are also restricted. This situation means that people are staying at home for a long time. With this lifestyle change, and irregular daily schedules, the biological rhythm can be easily disrupted. A 'biological rhythm' is a process that happens in the body and repeats approximately every 24 hours. What are the problems caused by the breakdown of the biological rhythm and what can people do to fix it?
When the biological rhythm is disrupted it can cause problems. First, it can cause sleeping disorders, one of the most common forms of modern diseases. The body clock that controls the biorhythm basically detects environmental and temporal changes and induces in-body reactions to respond to changes through a circadian period (the cycle of a day when the sun rises and sets). The primary biological rhythm system is sleep rhythm. When the biological rhythm is disrupted, sleep disorders are likely to occur.
Second, disrupted biological rhythms can affect physiological functions causing sleepiness, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, and poor concentration. It can also affect mental health causing conditions such as depression and anxiety.
Third, the immune system can be affected. The immune system continuously protects the body by detecting harmful external substances or tissue damage. If the biological rhythm is disrupted, the immune system can be weakened or it can go into an overly aggressive state even though there is no external threat to fight against.
The biological rhythm not only controls the overall rhythms needed for survival, such as sleep, temperature, immunity, and digestion, but also has a direct impact on human conscious action and mental health. What steps can people take to fix their disrupted biological rhythms? According to Sachin Panda who is a professor at the Salk Institute in California, people need to remember 3 keywords: sleep, meal, exercise.
First, have a good night's sleep. At night, the brain detoxifies, and creates new brain cells. If people don’t get enough sleep, then the biological clock won’t work well. To prevent this situation, it is better to maintain a dark environment before going to bed. Since darkness releases melatonin, it is also a good idea to use dim lights or indirect lighting. Also, the use of electronic devices before going to bed can have a bad effect on the sleep rhythm. Not only does light from electronic devices disturb sleep, but electromagnetic waves can cause various diseases.
Second, eat regular meals. Set regular meal times. It is advisable to have dinner within 8 to 12 hours after having breakfast. Regular meal times allow the body to control when to operate its organs, such as the intestines, liver, muscles and kidneys.
Third, exercise regularly. Active exercise improves quality of sleep and reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety by relaxing the brain. It can also enhance muscle strength, bone health, metabolism, digestion, and brain functions.
If feeling tired soon after sleeping, or feeling unmotivated and lethargic, try a change in habits. A little change in everyday life can have a big impact on the body. It is recommended to go out in the sun during the day to take a walk or stretch, and to block out light for good quality sleep. In particular, it is vitally important to maintain a healthy biological rhythm to support the immune system because of COVID-19.
By Kim Daeun, cub-reporter email@example.com
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