There’s something about circadian rhythm talk that immediately sections the topic into the ‘holistic’, even ‘spiritual’ realm. Perhaps it’s due to its inevitable connection to nature, to the passing of light and darkness in accordance to the star system that surrounds us: namely the sun and the moon. Because within modern thinking, and particularly Westernised thought, nature and its powers have become secondary to the human being, to rational minds and science and facts and physics. A power that is greater than our own has been marginalised to belong in the tier of the ‘spiritual’, and it’s not only incorrect but also attaching ourselves to this thought has damaging repercussions.
Yet here’s the thing: circadian rhythm is a sophisticated system. In fact, surgeons and researchers recently discovered that patients undergoing heart surgery in the afternoon hours are half as likely to develop cardiac issues in the 500 days following the operation.
The complexity of circadian rhythms goes all the way into micro biology; into each and every cell. To understand the effects of the biological circulations that direct our body’s organs, researchers tested 30 heart tissue samples. What they found is that hundreds of genes linked to the circadian rhythm clock, which meant the samples were naturally more active during the afternoon than they were in the morning tests.
“Just like every other cell in the body, heart cells have circadian rhythms that orchestrate their activity to anticipate the external rhythm of night and day - i.e. our heart 'expects' to work harder during the day than at night.” Said Dr John O’Neill, from the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology.
These recent findings came as a surprise, and groundbreaking news to doctors and researchers alike. We have, for far too long, followed the belief that human beings live autonomously to the natural world. Our cities have developed without the logics of nature embedded in their very core. Our medical practices advanced beyond comprehension, but left out many parts of our natural body cycles in the process (the contraceptive pill also comes to mind here). And if we naturally go to sleep at night, and feel energised during the middle of the day, wouldn’t it make sense that every single part of our body, our very cells, will follow in the same pattern?
This new research and its acceptance within the conventional medical community is a huge step forward in recognising the importance of circadian rhythms in our modern day practices. Although there is still a long way to go for circadian rhythm to become a dictating factor in our daily routine, this discovery is a celebration in recognising the potential of our own connectivity with nature offers.