Hello everyone Floyd Meyer here I am a Physician Assistant with a Master’s in public health, a degree in molecular biology, and I am currently working in physical medicine and rehabilitation. Today we are continuing our series on Resilience which is the ability to remain well, recover, or even thrive in the face of adversity.
Last week we discussed the key to building a foundation of resilience through consistency and habit transformation! If you haven’t seen that yet and want to learn the strategies for real sustainable habit transformation you should definitely check that out.
This week we are going to discuss the rhythms of resilience, how to strengthen your internal body clock, and why this is so important to improving your overall resilience.
Almost every physiologic process in the body is in some way affected by your internal body clock. This body clock is called your Circadian Rhythm. These daily cycles of bodily functions form the foundation of good health. In fact, our bodies are in a constant flux dictated by both light/ dark cycles and nutrient timing.
When the timing systems that regulate our bodies are desynchronized our overall stress levels will increase. This will result in us being less resilient to additional stressors. Not only that but having a robust circadian rhythm will actually provide you increased resilience to these stressors.
Think about the various systems in our bodies as having a certain capacity to handle stress. If we are already redlining the system through this desynchronization then we won’t be in a position to handle more stress.
Think about someone who has pulled multiple all nighters trying to finish a project. It would not take very much to set this person over the edge. People in this position have severely compromised immune function meaning that a viral infection that they could normally fight off without even noticing might cause severe symptoms. They simply lack the capacity to handle this additional stress on the body in their compromised state.
People with poor circadian rhythms, for example people who do shift work, where they work some day shifts and some night shifts throughout the week, have higher rates of multiple diseases from high blood pressure, to diabetes, to cancer. Their bodies are not able to handle the regular stressors of life due to being in a constant state of desynchronization.
Now that we know its importance how do we entrain this internal body clock? How do we make it as robust as possible? There are multiple techniques, but I am going to cover some of the most powerful and accessible ones in this video so you can start building the foundation of resilience today.
There are 2 master regulators of our circadian rhythms which can be thought of as the master clocks. These is the master clock in the brain which is controlled by the light/ dark cycles, and the master clock that is in the GI system which is controlled by the presence or absence of food.
Controlling your light dark cycles can have a profound impact on your circadian rhythm and thereby your overall resilience. There are 2 strategies that can really supercharge the master regulator clock in the brain.
First is to expose yourself to BRIGHT light during the day. If you can get at least 30 minutes of bright light exposure every day this will give your master clock the signal that it is daytime activating all of the biochemical pathways that should be active during the day. These pathways will make you awake, alert, and improve your ability to handle different stressors.
The earlier you can get this bright light exposure the better. Ideally you would get out of bed in the AM and go outside in the sunshine. Overtime, if you do this at around the same time each day you will train this master clock to activate around that time getting you ready to handle whatever the day will throw at you.
Second, is that after the sun goes down at night you need to significantly limit your blue light exposure. Blue light is going to tell your brain that it is daytime. The blue light comes from the sun but it also comes from our devices including our phones, computers, TVs, lamps, etc.
If you are using your phone before bed you are confusing your brain because it is still getting the signal that it’s day time. You can use things like blue light blocking glasses, blackout curtains, a program called F.lux on your computer, and red LED bulbs in your bedroom to limit your blue light exposure at night and give you that deep restorative sleep we all crave.
I have posted multiple videos on improving sleep quality so make sure you check those out for further details.
Now that we have synchronized the master clock in our brains through bright light exposure during the day and blocking the blue light at night, we need to synchronize the other clocks of the body. This is where nutrient timing comes in.
The master clocks in the GI system are activated by the presence or absence of food. If we are eating food this is sending a signal to this master clock that it is daytime. When we stop eating this tells the master clock that it is night time. The easiest way to entrain this clock to be more robust is to eat using a Time Restricted Eating framework.
The goal of Time Restricted Eating is to consume all of your calories in no more than a 12 hour window.
So for example, if you wake up at 7 AM and drink your first cup of coffee at 7:30 AM then you need to eat all of your food and drink all of your drinks (other than water, you can always drink pure water) by 7:30 PM.
If you ask most people if they eat in a 12 hour window they will say yes. But research suggests that this is far from the truth. Most people actually eat during a 14-15 hour eating window where for instance they will wake up around 7 AM eat breakfast and they won’t stop eating until 9-10 PM that night.
By following these strategies of getting bright light exposure during the day, blocking blue light at night, and following a time restricted eating schedule consistently you will develop a robust circadian rhythm. Your body will appropriately activate the pathways that make you alert, active, and able to handle stressors during the day, and will activate those rest, digest, heal, restore pathways at night.
The rhythms of resilience will be synchronized allowing you to better handle any obstacle is put in front of you.
If this resonated with you please share with your friends and family and subscribe and follow for more of this content. The time for action is now. Again this is Floyd Meyer. Have a great day!
Chaix, A., Zarrinpar, A., Miu, P., & Panda, S. (2014). Time-Restricted Feeding Is a Preventative and Therapeutic Intervention against Diverse Nutritional Challenges. Cell Metabolism, 20(6), 991-1005. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2014.11.001
Gill, S., & Panda, S. (2015). A Smartphone App Reveals Erratic Diurnal Eating Patterns in Humans that Can Be Modulated for Health Benefits. Cell Metabolism, 22(5), 789-798. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2015.09.005
Horne, B. D., Muhlestein, J. B., & Anderson, J. L. (2015). Health effects of intermittent fasting: hormesis or harm? A systematic review. American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 102(2), 464-470. doi:10.3945/ajcn.115.109553
Longo, V. D., & Panda, S. (2016). Fasting, Circadian Rhythms, and Time-Restricted Feeding in Healthy Lifespan. Cell Metabolism, 23(6), 1048-1059. doi:10.1016/j.cmet.2016.06.001
Marinac, C. R., Natarajan, L., Sears, D. D., Gallo, L. C., Hartman, S. J., Arredondo, E., & Patterson, R. E. (2015). Prolonged Nightly Fasting and Breast Cancer Risk: Findings from NHANES (2009-2010). Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, 24(5), 783-789. doi:10.1158/1055-9965.epi-14-1292
Moro, T., Tinsley, G., Bianco, A., Marcolin, G., Pacelli, Q. F., Battaglia, G., . . . Paoli, A. (2016). Effects of eight weeks of time-restricted feeding (16/8) on basal metabolism, maximal strength, body composition, inflammation, and cardiovascular risk factors in resistance- trained males. Journal of Translational Medicine, 14(1). doi:10.1186/s12967-016-1044-0
Patterson, R. E., Laughlin, G. A., Lacroix, A. Z., Hartman, S. J., Natarajan, L., Senger, C. M., … Gallo, L. C. (2015). Intermittent Fasting and Human Metabolic Health. Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, 115(8), 1203-1212. doi:10.1016/j.jand.2015.02.018
Rao, R., & Androulakis, I. P. (2019). The physiological significance of the circadian dynamics of the HPA axis: Interplay between circadian rhythms, allostasis and stress resilience. Hormones and Behavior, 110, 77–89. doi:10.1016/j.yhbeh.2019.02.018
Rothschild, J., Hoddy, K. K., Jambazian, P., & Varady, K. A. (2014). Time-restricted feeding and risk of metabolic disease: a review of human and animal studies. Nutrition Reviews, 72(5), 308-318. doi:10.1111/nure.12104
Tinsley, G. M., & Bounty, P. M. (2015). Effects of intermittent fasting on body composition and clinical health markers in humans. Nutrition Reviews, 73(10), 661-674. doi:10.1093/nutrit/nuv041
Watson AM. Sleep and Athletic Performance. Curr Sports Med Rep. 2017;16(6):413-418. doi:10.1249/JSR.0000000000000418
Zarrinpar, A., Chaix, A., & Panda, S. (2016). Daily Eating Patterns and Their Impact on Health and Disease. Trends in Endocrinology & Metabolism, 27(2), 69-83. doi:10.1016/j.tem.2015.11.007