A survey was conducted in 2011 that ascertained that one third of Americans were living paycheck to paycheck, and if they lost their job, they would not be able to make their next rent or mortgage payment — making them one paycheck away from homelessness.
In these hard economic times, it’s hard to believe that that statistic has changed.
This grim financial states forces many people to take one 2 or even 3 jobs during the course of the day, forcing late nights and early mornings, just to make their bills.
This work-state is an unnatural one and creates an uphill battle against one’s circadian rhythm.
The Rhythm of Life
Your body operates on a circadian rhythm. A circadian rhythm is a roughly 24-hour cycle in the physiological processes of living beings, including plants, animals, fungi and cyanobacteria. There are clear patterns of brain wave activity, hormone production, cell regeneration and other biological activities linked to this daily cycle.
Strictly speaking, circadian rhythms are endogenously generated, meaning they originate from within the organism. They can, however, be influenced by external cues such as temperature and sunlight. This is important to understand because your body functions better when your circadian rhythm is consistent. It is important to consciously keep a consistent circadian rhythm by avoiding these influential cues that might otherwise derail the normal circadian rhythm.
Disruption to the circadian rhythm can lead to negative effects. Nowadays, for many people, one major disruption to their circadian rhythm is the 24-hour shift work schedule. What makes matters worse is that these disruption are often only on a periodic basis and not a permanent one. This leads to what can be described as a constant jet-lag-effect, in that the body is continually readjusting itself, bringing on constant symptoms of fatigue and ultimately the development of sleeping disorders. Such a schedule can wreak havoc on a person’s body and sleep patterns, affecting the overall quality of life.
Caffeine is a stimulant and aids us in shifting our circadian rhythms in order to lengthen our day.
The Science Daily reports:
A new study at the Université de Montréal has concluded that people drinking coffee to get through a night shift or a night of studying will strongly hurt their recovery sleep the next day. The study published in the current issue of Neuropsychopharmacology was conducted by Dr. Julie Carrier from the Department of Psychology at the Université de Montréal. Dr. Carrier runs the Chronobiology Laboratory at the Hôpital du Sacré-Coeur de Montréal.
“We already knew that caffeine has important effects on nocturnal sleep. It increases the time taken to fall asleep, it increases the amount of awakenings, and it decreases the amount of deep sleep. We have shown that these effects of caffeine on sleep are way stronger when taken at night prior to a daytime recovery sleep episode than in the evening before a nocturnal sleep episode.”
“Caffeine makes daytime sleep episodes too shallow to override the signal from the biological clock that tells the body it should be awake at this time of day,” explains Dr. Carrier. “We often use coffee and other sources of caffeine during the nighttime to counteract sleepiness generated by sleep deprivation, jet lag, and shift-work. However, this habit may have important effects when you then try to recuperate during daytime.”
For many of us, our schedules are out of our control– we have to make the bills. But it is important for us to understand why are bodies behave the way they do under the circumstances we put them in. This allows us to ‘correct’ ourselves should our economic situation, even in the short-term.
Check out these videos on the circadian rhythm: