We pay it scarce attention usually, but the earth and the solar system move in a precise rhythm, regularly bringing us day and night as well as the four seasons.
Similarly, our bodies function — or should anyway — on a regular schedule, which is known as the circadian rhythm. Generally, this rhythm means when it’s light outside, we’re awake and active, and when it gets dark, we sleep, rest and rejuvenate. When we try to alter that rhythm, we have to adapt, and such adaptation carries risks with it.
Worse, sometimes we can’t get our bodies to adjust to our normal circadian rhythm and find it difficult to sleep at night, even as we honor nature’s rhythm and try employing our best sleep hygiene methods.
Dr. Erol Fikrig from Yale University School of Medicine recently released the findings of his study examining how the circadian clock controls TLR9, an immune system protein that detects bacterial and viral DNA.
His study has implications in treating illness — and in administering medicine, especially vaccines. Dr. Fikrig believes that administering vaccines in the afternoon honors the body’s natural circadian rhythm and allows the recipient’s body to process the vaccine while sleeping. Vaccinations in the morning can therefore be less effective.
“These findings not only unveil a novel, direct molecular link between circadian rhythms and the immune system, but also open a new paradigm in the biology of the overall immune response with important implications for the prevention and treatment of disease,” concludes Dr. Fikrig.
“Furthermore, patients in the ICU often have disturbed sleep patterns, due to noise, nocturnal light exposure and medications; it will be important to investigate how these factors influence TLR9 expression levels and immune responses.”
What does all this imply for our daily lives? After all, we usually only get vaccinations when we’re young, or when we’re older (flu shots, etc.). Basically, his study has implications involving how our sleep — or lack thereof — influences our health, and therefore our happiness.
When we honor our body’s natural circadian rhythm through good diet, exercise and sleep habits, we will naturally enjoy better health, which leads to increased chances of happiness.
If you. like tens of millions of other Americans, however, have trouble sleeping at night, or have trouble staying awake and focused in the daytime, you probably need help with your sleep hygiene and habits, but you also may need professional help to deal with any natural causes interfering with your night’s rejuvenation through sleep.
In short, it’s essential to seek professional help when sleep problems are interfering with your health and happiness. These professionals can help your body get back into its natural rhythm of rest and rejuvenation.