We, in the modern world have become removed from the natural cycles of life due in most part to the introduction of electricity which has allowed us to have light, when our body actually requires dark! Our circadian rhythms have been completely interrupted and this becomes most evident during the Winter season. Winter is the time of rest, both for animals and plants. Leaves turn color as the plants store sugars for future needs, dropping off as the job is done. Animals put on layers of fat in anticipation of a season of frigid temperatures. Days become darker as nights become longer. Nature induces a slower pace as winter locks us in it’s cold embrace. During winter, animals and birds retreat to warmer places in search of food to sustain them through the long winter months - some even take on thousands of miles of migration.
With modern conveniences, modern man has become out of step with Nature – we get up before the sun has had time to warm the ground and continue long after the sun has hid it’s face. We find it harder to get up early during the Winter for good reason! In addition, we often eat foods that have been transported from warmer climates instead of eating dried fruits and root vegetables and in smaller amounts than in the summer months when we are normally more active. We eat foods unnatural to the dictates of a winter climate and neglect our need for extra rest.
To be in tune with nature we need to rest and recoup our energies during Winter just like the animal kingdom does. Their lives have remained the same – they do not have electricity in their hibernation homes!
Ignoring our circadian rhythms creates problems with our brains, immune systems and hormonal systems. No wonder so many people are unable to obtain restful, rejuvenating sleep. Further problems are created when people sleep with night lights on. We need complete darkness at night to produce melatonin and other hormones. Our hormones are intimately tied to our circadian rhythms. Those whose lives revolve around alternating shift work are most at risk. To be truly healthy we need to observe the laws of Nature, of which we are a part. To move back into a natural rhythm we need to go to sleep when it’s dark, get up when it’s light and eat appropriate foods for the season. While you may think sleep merely affects the way you feel throughout your day, you may be surprised to discover it affects us in many more ways. It can affect your ability to lose weight, fight cancer and many other diseases. As the days shortened and Winter came on, our ancestors simply went to bed earlier – probably to also escape the cold! Up until the early 1900′s the average adult slept at least nine or ten hours and during the deepest, darkest part of winter that often increased to twelve or thirteen hours. Our ancestors were healthy most of their lives and died of old age – not disease. They didn’t spend their time worrying about heart disease and cancer, and for the most part they weren’t obese. One of the reasons for this was the extra effort they needed to expend to obtain the food in the first instance and simply knowing just how hard it was to obtain the food, it was treated with respect – only eating enough to maintain the body – eating to live, rather than living to eat!
With Winter now showing it’s bitter cold face we need to take lessons from nature around us – to slow down and get more rest – or hibernate!
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- Dr Richard McMinn - Chiropractor Brighton
- Dr Helen Martin - Chiropractor Brighton
- Dr Glenn Fredericksen - Chiropractor Brighton