What does chronotype mean?
If everyone has the same circadian rhythms, which are rigidly tied to the clock, where do larks, owls, and doves come from?
That is, people who work easier at night, for example, or, on the contrary, “early birds.
They have individual circadian rhythms.
Or another word for it is chronotype.
It is thought to be inherited because it is genetically conditioned.
Closely related to the circadian rhythm is such a concept as chronotype.
It is the time preference for waking sleep, or what most people understand as being a lark or owl.
Unlike our circadian rhythm, our particular chronotype is not influenced by any external forces (such as light-dark cycles) except genetics.
Knowing your chronotype is useful for planning your day with productivity windows in mind.
That’s why it’s so important to work according to your chronotype, not against it.
Researchers have developed questionnaires that can help determine your chronotype.
Examples of the most common are:
- Circadian Type Questionnaire (CTQ);
- Morning and Evening Condition Questionnaire (Auto-MEQ);
- Munich Chronotype Questionnaire (MCTQ);
- Lars Thorsvall and Torbjörn Okerstedt circadian type scale.
By definition, the circadian rhythm is capable of changing or resetting itself in response to environmental input, which means it can be “trained” by adhering to a strict schedule.
The chronotype is based on a genetic basis, so it exists on a more permanent basis.
An owl may wake up at 7 a.m. every day for work, but it may not be productive until later in the day.
Conversely, larks may wake up alert at 7 a.m., but begin to feel sleepy closer to evening.
It is very difficult and rather impossible to change your chronotype on purpose, although it may change throughout your life.
Causes of circadian rhythm failure
- Jet lag is a cause suffered by anyone who has crossed several time zones in a short period of time.
Jet lag most often occurs after intercontinental flights.
It takes time for the body to rearrange its biological clock when it enters a different cycle of day and night.
This can take many days.
It is especially difficult for those whose round-trip flights fall within a short period of time.
Circadian rhythms have to change twice.
- Night shifts are traditionally considered the hardest work.
It is much harder to work at night because circadian rhythms are set up for the body to rest.
It is very difficult to readjust your circadian rhythms in this situation: natural light during the day will affect the production of hormones that stimulate activity.
If you are very tired, you can fall asleep, but you can’t get enough sleep and get a good rest.
Insomnia and other sleep disorders negatively impact various body functions.
- Living in extreme natural conditions can impact circadian rhythms.
These are areas where polar night, polar day or white nights occur.
Such disturbances of the daylight cycle inevitably affect biorhythms as well.
- Light from monitor screens and mobile phones.
This is especially true in the evening and before bed.
Scientists recommend that you stop using gadgets because the light they emit affects circadian rhythms and can cause sleep disorders.
- Various sleep disorders.
For example, blind people may experience a sleep-wake cycle that does not correspond to 24 hours, because the blind cannot see daylight.
With irregular circadian rhythms, people may fall asleep and wake up several times during the day.
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What a disturbance of circadian rhythms can lead to
What a disturbance of circadian rhythms can lead to:
Throughout the day, circadian rhythms trigger blood pressure.
When circadian rhythms are disrupted, the body has to cope with blood pressure that is not on time, leading to cardiovascular disease.
- Resistance to insulin, and therefore problems with excess weight.
Studies show a direct link between obesity, type 2 diabetes, and sleep disturbances.
- Caffeine addiction.
It’s not uncommon for people with frustrated sleep and wakefulness schedules to have to resort to stimulants.
- Higher risk of depression.
- Vulnerability to infections.
Immunity from constant lack of sleep and insomnia weakens and allows harmful pathogens to pass through.
- Risk of developing cancer.