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Circadian Rhythm: Light-Dark Cycles

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Integrative and Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy
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Abstract

The systems biology study of the current epidemic of chronic disease has exposed significant pathophysiology related to disorders of the circadian rhythm. Most commonly recognized are sleep disorders within the science of sleep medicine. The master biological clock is located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) of the hypothalamus gland and is governed by light cues through the retina. It influences a wide variety of functions, including sleep, arousal, feeding, and a myriad of metabolic processes. The focus of this chapter is to present evidence for the influences that nutrients and lifestyle have on the 24-hour circadian rhythm cycle and to provide tools to enable nutritional interventions to help an individual to bring a balance toward wellness. Diet and lifestyle factors influencing sleep and circadian rhythm are sleep quality, nutrient timing and composition, B vitamins, minerals, fats, and phytonutrients, as well as light, melatonin, and sleep habits. Optimizing these factors has been shown as effective treatment for sleep disorders. Food has been shown to have a strong effect on circadian rhythms. If the composition and timing of food eaten are not in phase with the light-dark cycle, a disruption in metabolism can occur. Modern lifestyle, with artificial light and erratic eating patterns, can upset the biological circadian system. Many questions remain unanswered regarding chrononutrition, and there is a need for further human studies. A continuing partnership between chronobiologists and nutritionists will shed light on the connection between nutrition and the circadian system, with the ultimate goal of reducing the burden of chronic diseases.

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Schuler, C.B., Hope, K.M. (2020). Circadian Rhythm: Light-Dark Cycles. In: Noland, D., Drisko, J., Wagner, L. (eds) Integrative and Functional Medical Nutrition Therapy. Humana, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-30730-1_34

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