Rhythms of life: cognition & maintaining a healthy body composition across the lifespan

Circadian disruption, weight loss, and brain fog (Logan and McClung, 2019)

"In psychiatry and behavioural medicine, novel circadian-based interventions are rare and often overlooked. Even in cases in which circadian disruption is not a primary cause of a disorder, stabilizing sleep-wake patterns using behavioural, environmental, or pharmacological tools might ease symptoms."

Many studies suggest this is also true for weight management. You may think your subjective sleep quality is good, but have no idea how much circadian interventions can help shed a couple pounds. Reduced food cravings, improved nutrient partitioning & cognitive function, etc.

It's important to start early, but becomes more important as we age. 

Healthy aging involves an early chronotype -- staying up late doing whatever (watching TV, socializing, drinking alcohol, etc.) = late chronotype. Often accompanied by poor sleep quality and coffee addiction. Some people are more susceptible than others: "Mutations in clock genes such as CRY1, NFIL2, and RORC have been linked to phase delay (ie, delayed sleep-wake phase disorder) in genetic family studies. The risk of depression is increased in people with this disorder and particularly in those with a biological circadian misalignment."

This is also seen in rotating shift workers and flight attendants, and includes excess adiposity and increased risk for obesity-related disorders such as type 2 diabetes. Cancer, obesity, heart disease, and GI discomfort all fall under this blanket.

Older folks generally have poorer sleep quality, so mindfulness about healthy circadian behaviours is important... but younger people are more susceptible to artificial light at night because they have better eyesight! Artificial light at night and sunlight deficiency are critically detrimental in both groups.


Dysregulation of this system is also associated with "sundowning syndrome," characterized by increased aggression, restlessness, delirium, and agitation which occurs in the late afternoon or early evening. Dur to inappropriate light-dark cues and sleep disruption.

Get outside. Get natural sunlight. Environmental and biological disruptions to circadian rhythms cause and worsen the progression of a variety of diseases.

"Throughout the lifespan, sleep and circadian rhythm disruptions are strongly linked to the pathophysiology of specific psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders." And can make it really hard to maintain a healthy body composition.

That's all for now!

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