Having a regular schedule for eating, sleeping, and exercising in this quarantine is much more important than you thought. Keeping your biological clock in order can work in your favor and protect you from COVID – 19. Find out how
During these weeks of social isolation, losing track of time seems like a matter of days. Although being on paper seems to be an efficient way to manage time spent working, eating, spending free time, or doing any other activity, the reality is that this extraordinary situation can adversely impact your schedules.
Millions of people who are going through social isolation right now have noticed how their eating, sleeping, and other daily activities seem to be turning upside down and disorganized.
The circadian rhythm is the set of biological processes at different levels that produce metabolic variation in response to environmental conditions throughout a day.
Starting from day and night, from natural light, hours of darkness, and other variables, the biological clock governs the body regulating sleep, the time of awakening, hunger, energy, and other behaviors. This set of natural schedules is called the circadian cycle.
The latest scientific evidence shows the relationship between an unsynchronized circadian rhythm and poor immune system function: if your body follows a regular schedule in sync with these natural cycles, the brain and the rest of your organs will maintain optimal function and be better able to fight any disease.
Otherwise, the body is more vulnerable to the intrusion of bacteria, viruses, and any other hostile agent that can compromise our health.
Satchin Panda is a Professor of Regulatory Biology at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California and runs a laboratory specializing in the study of circadian rhythms.
The specialist says that “the stresses on our physical and psychological health can leave us even more vulnerable to viruses and other health problems,” and to increase immunity, he suggests maintaining a healthy circadian rhythm by developing a daily routine.”
Despite its complexity, Panda synthesizes the recommendations to keep our schedules coordinated with the circadian rhythms in five actions: sleeping, eating, exposure to light, and exercising.
It is the most critical activity and the best predictor of health when it comes to regulating our circadian rhythm. When it comes to sleep, it’s vital to avoid daily sleepless nights and set a certain time (as much as possible) to go to bed every night.
A strategy recommended by the specialist is to reduce the light at home about 2 hours before sleeping to produce melatonin naturally. Another way to relax and get ready for sleep is to take a bath before bed and completely disconnect from work pressures.
Most people extend their eating sequence (the period in which they consume food throughout the day) for 15 hours or more, a factor that can play negatively when it comes to circadian rhythms.
The specialist’s recommendation is to reduce this sequence to 10 hours (for example, if you eat breakfast at 10 am, you should have your last meal of the day at 8 pm). Dinners should be lighter, and it is best to prepare food at home, making sure it is eaten without excess fat, sugar, or salt.
It takes just half an hour a day to receive natural light to put your body in a state of alert, in addition to reducing stress and depression. If it is not possible to go outside, open the windows wide, and allow natural light to enter your home.
Maintaining some physical activity is essential to regulate the circadian rhythm. Doing at least half an hour of exercise a day will help regulate appetite and sleep.