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a termomoter in a persons mouth

        Body Clocks and Rhythm
                            By Dr. Winston Craig

            Many of our bodily functions occur with amazing regularity. The heart beats about once per second. Intestinal contractions occur approximately every three minutes. The menstrual cycle is once per month. We breathe, on average, once every four heart beats. We blink every two to three seconds. Sleep patterns follow a 90 minute cycle. The electrical waves of our brain show a regular pattern of 8 to 12 cycles per second.

            Humans are subject to more than a 100 biological rhythms. Body temperature, blood pressure, mental acuity, and many hormones such as cortisol all fluctuate on a regular daily cycle. The time of the day that you take your medication can affect how well it works. When our biological clocks are  thrown off kilter, trouble follows, especially for rotating shift workers. The Bhopal spill, the Chernobyl reactor explosion, and the Three Mile Island accident all happened when new crews began early morning shifts.

            Experiencing jet lag after airplane travel across several time zones illustrates the importance of keeping in sync with normal daily rhythms. When we are out of sync with the normal rhythms of the body we may experience discomfort, irritability, sleep disturbances, headaches, constipation, upset stomachs, decreased reaction time, a Jack of concentration, decreased motivation, or mild memory loss. An irregular  schedule has an effect on our body and mind similar to that  of jet lag.

            Even the small adjustment for daylight savings can have a significant physiological effect. During the week after we turn our clocks forward or backwards by one hour, it is observed that sleep may be disturbed, absenteeism increases in schools and businesses, and auto accidents increase.

            We are rhythmic creatures. Our bodies run in cyclical patterns. Therefore, we would do well to have regular hours  for the important things in life - sleep, work, eating, physical  activity, prayer and Bible study. This is essential to maintain optimal health. Habits of regularity are associated with improved health and memory, and a better disposition (CG 112).

By Winston Craig, PhD
Andrews University

Books by Dr. Winston Craig