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Satchin Panda on Circadian Rhythms

Satchidananda Panda, a leader at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, believes that the circadian rhythm is one of the most powerful influences on human health. We all have inner circadian clocks that help us adjust to the Earth’s 24-hour cycles. As it turns out, these clocks are crucial to our survival.

If you put someone in a room without them knowing what time it is, their body will naturally adjust to the circadian rhythm. They will produce melatonin in the evening and get sleepy at night. In the morning the hormones will change to make them more awake, and their peak production will occur in the afternoon.

When the cycle is disrupted, for example, if we go to bed at 4 in the morning, we will feel awful the next day. If we continue to abuse the circadian rhythm for months, we put ourselves at risk of chronic disease.

Light is one of the main factors that influence our internal clocks. We produce neurons that are activated in bright daylight and deactivated at night. Thus, when we look at a bright screen in the night time, it is harder for us to go to sleep. Similarly, if we spend most of our day indoors, we are often still tired when we wake up in the morning. In the modern day, many of us move through this disorganized cycle of insomnia and grogginess that is extremely unhealthy.

Panda introduces a solution called the “new lighting revolution,” promoting more blue light during the day and less light at night. Circadian lighting can help brain development, increase productivity, and promote health.

Eating is also a critical aspect that dominates our clock. We are meant to eat within a 10-hour cycle during the day, yet most humans eat within 15 or more. Doing so can encourage all kinds of health problems, including insomnia, obesity, and chronic disease. People who eat within the circadian rhythm feel better.

The circadian rhythm is a dominant force in our bodies. Depending on the time of day, medicine can either help or harm us. Scheduling things like chemo, vaccines, and surgery at the right time of day can seriously influence our health. Panda writes “I truly believe that circadian rhythm has untapped potential to prevent, manage, and cure many of the chronic diseases that affect billions of people.”

Although these theories are postulated, the circadian revolution could turn into a billion dollar industry. It is a concept that has the potential to profoundly change our lives – who knows what companies will do with this information! Panda is doing an Idea’s in Action event in November, where he will discuss his book, The Circadian Code. Show up to hear updates about his research!