Body Rhythm, Planetary Rhythm

When we think of being in nature, we often think of places we love: ocean, forest, meadow, desert. But living in harmony with nature also means allowing the cycling movements of earth, sun, and moon to set our own body’s rhythms.

Many researchers believe that being synchronized with natural light-dark cycles is the basis of good health. As life evolved, the influence of the sun and moon were constant; organisms had to adapt to the cycles of day and night, a waxing and waning moon, and the seasons if they were to thrive. These days, living indoors, able to flick on electric lights any time we want, it’s easy to forget that our bodies have been intimately linked with natural cycles of light and dark for eons.

But our changed environment hasn’t altered how our bodies function. We still have daily, monthly, and seasonal cycles of sleep and wakefulness, temperature, blood pressure, hormone secretion, cell division, and virtually all bodily functions. These processes are triggered and synchronized by changes in light level, air temperature, and other environmental factors.

What’s a modern nature-lover to do? Morning and evening are especially important times for resetting your inner clock. Awakening gradually with the sun, which stimulates production of serotonin (a feel-good hormone), allows your body to peacefully resolve its sleep cycles and prepare for the day. When you’re in tune with the sun’s cycles, your heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and level of cortisol (a hormone that defends against stress) increase before you wake up. In the evening, these functions should decrease, while darkness triggers increased production of the sleep-inducing hormones melatonin and prolactin.

Yet how many of us set our body clocks by the sun these days? Indoor lighting, street lights, and ubiquitous LCD-screen devices keep stimulating us to high-noon activity levels day and night. No wonder so many of us are tired!

Being “desynchronized” from solar cycles may make you tired, depressed, or anxious; your sleep may be disturbed; your digestion and metabolism can be thrown off; and you may generally become more vulnerable. All of these are common complaints, but how often do you consider the possibility that the culprit might be that you’ve lost your natural rhythm?

The good news is that it’s easy to get your natural rhythm back. Here are some things to try:
• Cut back on light exposure during the hour or two before bedtime
• Minimize light pollution in your bedroom
• Allow the sun’s gently increasing light to awaken you in the morning (this doesn’t mean you have to get up at dawn)
• After awakening, go outside in sunlight for 15 minutes to help reset your biological clock

Yes, easier said than done. But there are a lot of tricks for making this work, even in today’s overlit world. I’ll share more of my experiences in this blog. What have you tried? Feel free to post your experiences here, or come Like the Come Home to Nature Facebook Page and join the conversation: www.facebook.com/comehometonature.

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Comments

  1. frances rose says:

    beautiful image tks

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  1. […] And why should we be any different? Our bodies are inextricably linked to the earth and it’s cycles (Read: BODY RHYTHM, PLANETARY RHYTHM).  […]

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