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An Introduction to Circadian Clock

people use clocks to plan for activities and know when to do what. Maybe it is a popular notion that humans invented hours and watches, and nature does not have such abstracts. It is wrong; we have a clock in our body; it works and regulates our daily activities. As well as all the other laws and forces in nature, it is essential to know what they are and how they can affect us.

If we do not set a clock, we will wake up after some hours. Which alarm rings inside us?
That is right: Our circadian clock. Each of us has a 24 hours physiologic clock in our body. It can control body temperature, energy, sleep pattern, etc. How does this clock work?

There is a center in our brain that conducts our internal clock, the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus or SCN. This center takes some electrical impulses from our eyes based on the amount of light in the environment. After some processes and analysis of these impulses, this center adjusts our internal clock in coordination with different organs and their functions. For instance, controlling melatonin secretion to set our sleep pattern is one of its roles. The SCN is connected to regulating body temperature, alertness, and cognitive status that affects our memory and learning. These connections have genes and are unique biochemical molecules that are complex.

The circadian clock is related to some rhythms in our body called Circadian rhythms. These are connected to some changes in our physiology. Let’s consider typical teen circadian rhythms through 24 hours for better understanding; From 10 am to 1 pm, body temperature increases, and the body is more alert. After about an hour, from 2 pm to 5 pm, body energy starts to fall, and folks need something to eat. At about 23:00, an adolescent feels drowsy and wants to sleep. The lowest body energy is from 3 am to 7 am, then gradually grows until 9 or 10 am, and this cycle repeats. Now you have an overall view of what scientists call Circadian Rhythms.

It is not only limited to the body temperature or alertness. Health scientists reveal the changes in the heart rate and blood pressure during the day. Statistics show a high prevalence of strokes in the morning. What is the reason for this phenomenon? Yes, you are again right. There is a circadian variation in blood pressure and heart rate. Both of them surge in the morning. There is a connection between early morning strokes and this rise.

Humans can disturb the circadian rhythms and cause some problems. People working at night are endangered by circadian disruption and its harmful effects. As investigators pointed out, disturbing circadian rhythm affects the immune system and different cells. There is evidence of a higher risk of gastrointestinal and cardiac diseases in night workers. Some cancers such as prostate, breast, and colorectal are also higher. These scientists' statements show a remarkable result: Circadian disorder can increase the risk of many diseases in humans.

In conclusion, the circadian clock and rhythms are our internal physiologic clocks. Maybe it is an unrealistic statement to advise sleeping at the exact time of this clock and waiting until it rings. Still, it is essential to set our time and activities to sleep and awake approximately not to disturb circadian rhythms. 

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