Circadian Rhythms – What are they and how can they affect training?

Circadian Rhythms are the natural cycle of changes that our body go through in a day, physically, mentally and behaviourally; generally, as a response to the light and darkness we encounter over 24 hours. One of the most obvious examples of a circadian rhythm is the way we sleep during the night and are awake during the day.
Circadian Rhythms are incredibly important in our day to day lives as they influence major functions within our bodies such as hormone release, body temperature, digestion and eating habits.
Our biological clocks are a system that control our circadian rhythms and regulate their cycle. Due to the way these rhythms are responsive, studies show that when we sleep is just as important as how much we are sleeping. When we are in low light, our brain produces melatonin which is a hormone helping to make us feel sleepy. This is why using electronic devices and having bright lights in our house in the evenings can negatively impact our ability to sleep and the quality of sleep we get.
During the autumn and winter, as daylight hours get shorter, it is important to keep our circadian rhythm regulated by ensuring we encounter light within the first few hours of waking to help us feel more awake and energised. Using daylight Lamp Alarms”, which wake you up slowly with a light that gradually gets brighter and mimics natural daylight is seen as an effective way to naturally wake up at a particular time and improve energy levels and mood.
When we have an effective Circadian Rhythm that matches our optimum sleep cycle, we will feel more rested, wake up more refreshed and therefore have more energy for the day ahead. We also tend to make better choices with food, with less cravings for high-calorie, sugary foods which tend to negatively impact our energy levels and health. The combination of improved energy and healthier eating can really help with our training; meaning we have more endurance for exercise but also more strength for heavier lifts!