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Living With Rhythm

Posted on 13 October 2017 by sam

You can feel rhythm in the way that your toes start tapping to the beat of a catchy song – and you can also feel it as you grow tired at the end of a long day. Rhythms are all around us, and our bodies are in tune with them. This isn’t New Age mumbo jumbo: this is real science!

Rhythms are all around us… and inside us

Rhythms exist in nature. The cycles of the moon, and rise and fall of the tides, and the rising and setting of the sun are all natural rhythms. They’re as predictable as the drumbeat in a pop or rock song, and they have a significant impact on the world all around us. The whole world is joining in: birds singing in the morning, ocean animals migrating with each night’s temperature changes, and even we humans sleeping in the dark hours and rising with the light.

But we’re not just responding the rhythms of life. We’re also keeping track of them inside ourselves, whether we realize it or not. That may sound like some hippie nonsense, but it’s actually hard science: this year’s Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine went to researchers who traced the biological source of circadian rhythms in fruit flies. Yes, even fruit flies are in tune with the rhythms of the Earth, and the research that these scientists did has brought us closer to understanding the ways in which animal life all over the planet has adapted to the beat of the Earth’s rotation.

How to tap into the rhythm of life

The rhythm is in each of us, and we want to live in harmony with the Earth – but we’re not always doing it. Anyone who has ever been jet lagged knows what it is like to disrupt “circadian rhythms,” which is science’s fancy term for our body’s natural sleep patterns. Our bodies want us to sleep at night and get up in the morning! Not all sleep is created equal, and we will be better rested and healthier if we sleep the way that nature intended. It’s just one of several ways that we can better live in the rhythm of life:

    • Sleep better. There are a lot of way to track your circadian rhythms, including apps and pen-and-paper methods. Use one, and try to get natural sleep by using comfort aids like water pillows rather than sleeping pills and other chemical solutions.
    • Eat on a schedule. It’s not clear that your body is on an internal eating clock, but we do know that eating between meals is one path to obesity, and that habits build on themselves with each passing day. So set a new normal for yourself, and stick to a schedule for your meals.
    • Steer clear of chemicals. There’s no surer way to disrupt your sleep or eating schedule than to ingest things that make you tired (or alert) or hungry (or not hungry). Alcohol, sleeping pills, caffeine – they all can mess up your internal rhythms. So be moderate in your intake of these substances, or avoid them entirely.