Understanding Circadian Rhythms

A circadian rhythm is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. It can refer to any biological process that displays an endogenous, (meaning in originates from within a living organism), entrainable oscillation of about 24 hours.

These 24-hour rhythms are driven by what is known as a “circadian clock”, and they have been widely observed in plants, animals, fungi and bacteria.

Though people often refer to circadian rhythms as Biorhythms, they are not the same thing. Biorhythms can have a longer or shorter cycle than circadian rhythms, which are more strictly linked to a daily 24-hour cycle.

Why is all this important to training?

Well, as mentioned above circadian rhythms are entrainable, meaning that – although they originate from within – they can be “modified” and changed by external stimuli,(like blue light, noise, traveling through different time zones).

Entrainment helps organisms maintain an adaptive phase relationship with the environment as well as prevent drifting of a free running rhythm.

Consider this. There are 168 hours in a full week. If you train 3 times a week for an hour, that adds up to 3 hours of training, and 165 hours that you are not, so you really want to organize those 165 hours in the best way possible to maximize your efforts in the 3 hours that you are training.

Eating enough quality food is a good way to start, but sleep and rest is also very important, and so is being aware of your circadian rhythms. Try to be regular in your training schedule. Try – if life permits you -to train always at the same time of day. Your body does get used to it and will not perform at its best if you train at different hours on different days. The same goes with feeding times and relaxation time. Constant changes in your daily routine can have adverse effects at the hormonal level, on your performance in the gym, and your general well-being. In today’s hectic world this is hard to do, yet we do need to be aware of circadian rhythms and the fundamental importance they play in our daily lives.

 

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