Circadian rhythms regulate sleep

Most people are programmed to sleep around 11 p.m. and naturally awake around 7 a.m. Of course, each individual person is different, and these times represent an average. Anza Valley Outlook/Courtesy photo
Many people suffer sleep problems, especially as they get older and busier. Work, stress, changing hormones and more can interfere with the biological clock that regulates periods of being tired and awake throughout the day. This clock is called the circadian rhythm. Circadian rhythms are influenced by fluctuations of natural light within a 24-hour period, and are based in hypothalamus area of the brain. Inside the hypothalamus resides a group of cells called the suprachiasmatic nucleus, which are connected to the optic nerves of the eyes that sense changes in light. These cells help regulate daily cycle functions such as body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate and the release of hormones such as melatonin, which helps with sleep. When daylight first touches our eyes, our body t
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