Are you sleepy sometimes in the afternoon? Do you seem to handle physical tasks more easily late in the day? If so, you already know about circadian rhythms.
Your body has more than 100 circadian rhythms. Each unique 24-hour cycle influences an aspect of your body's function, including body temperature, hormone levels, heart rate, blood pressure-- even pain threshold. Understanding how these cycles interplay is fascinating. And, in some cases, you may be able to plan your day to take advantage of your body's natural rhythms.
How your body keeps time
In your brain is a type of "pacemaker" called the suprachiasmatic (soo-prah-ki-az-MAT-ik) nuclei. This area of your brain regulates the firing of nerve cells that seem to set your circadian rhythms.
Scientists can't explain precisely how this area in your brain "keeps time." They do know your brain relies on outside influences, "zeitgebers" (ZITE-ga-berz), to keep it on a 24-hour schedule.
The most obvious zeitgeber is daylight. When daylight hits your eyes, cells in the retinas signal your brain. Other zeitgebers are sleep, social contact and even regular meal times. They all send "timekeeping" clues to your brain, helping keep your circadian rhythms running according to schedule.
Rhythms control your day
Almost no area of your body is unaffected by circadian rhythms.
sleep and wake--It may seem you sleep when you're tired and wake when you're rested. But your sleep patterns follow a circadian rhythm.
You're most likely to sleep soundly when your temperature is lowest, in the wee hours of the morning. You're also most likely to awaken when your temperature starts to rise around 6 to 8 a.m.
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Your nervous system is made up of two parts. The core is your central nervous system — your brain and spinal cord. The rest of your nervous system, branching off from your spinal cord to the rest of your body, is your peripheral nervous system.
Part of the peripheral nervous system involves nerves that you consciously control — such as nerves you use to move your voluntary muscles. Part is your autonomous nervous system — the nerves that regulate the part of your nervous system that you can't control, such as your heart rate, blood pressure and digestion.
Damage to your peripheral nerves is called peripheral neuropathy. Autonomic neuropathy is a type of peripheral neuropathy in which the very small nerves are damaged.
A number of conditions can lead to damage of the autonomic nerves. The most common cause is diabetes. About half of the people who have diabetes eventually develop some type of neuropathy.
Other causes may include:
- Alcoholism, a chronic, progressive disease that can lead to nerve damage
- Poor diet White rice, white flour, white sugar no fatty acids in diet.
- Infection from virus, mycoplasma type bacteria.
- Abnormal protein buildup in organs (amyloidosis), which affects the organs and the nervous system
- Autoimmune diseases, in which your immune system attacks and damages parts of your body, including your nerves
- Some tumors, which can press on nerves and cause direct or remote damage (paraneoplastic syndrome)
- Multiple system atrophy, a degenerative disorder that destroys the nervous system
- Surgical or traumatic injury to nerves, injury can be from a car accident.
- Other chronic illnesses such as Parkinson's disease and HIV/AIDS
- Celiac disease more info