What if you have a system that can control your sleep, digestion, metabolism, mood and more – and an easy way to run it smoothly? It turns out, there is, and it is called circadian rhythm.
“You really want to maximize the usefulness of your circadian rhythm because its whole function is to free you from worries about your body,” said researcher Sophia Axelrod, Ph.D. says mbg. As Axelrod explains, every single aspect of the body – from your temperature and alertness to digestion and bowel movements – is circadian, meaning it moves on its own clock. The most obvious example of this is our sleep; Every 24 hours or so, our body knows it’s time to rest.
Axelrod’s lab at Rockefeller University studied the internal functions of our sleeping clocks and won the 2017 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their discovery that they were actually genetic, meaning the tendency to be nocturnal owls or early birds was partially documented. In our genes.
“Your tendency to work at night or in the morning is not only determined by life circumstances,” he explains, “but it can be genetically encoded and is called chronotype.”
People with chronotypes longer than 24 hours naturally want to wake up later and go to sleep later, while those with shorter chronotypes want to get up early and go to bed early. Those who have a standard chronotype, close to 24 hours in length, fall somewhere in the middle.
The genetic material of chronotypes is important because it proves that to get a good night’s rest, we need to work. With Our bodies like normal sleep, not against them. So, in the spirit of personalized medicine, here are Axelrod’s tips for finding a sleep routine designed for your DNA.