Understanding the concept of BIORHYTHMS


You are not an owl. Neither are you a bat. You are a human being. But do you remember this? Do you remember that you are a diurnal being and not a nocturnal living being like an owl or a bat? Do you remember this when you try bingeing on your favourite Web series or when you stay up late, almost till the morning, trying to finish your work from the office? No, you do not. And that is why you are increasingly becoming the breeding ground of many lifestyle diseases. Your paunch is becoming the harbinger of your arrival at places and you do not feel rested no matter however long be the duration of your siesta. Your cholesterol level is constantly going up. Your emotional health, on the other hand, is showing a downward trend. Your control over your emotions is waning. What has happened? You are gradually becoming an owl and losing your status of being a human being.

Our brain carries the neural structure of the numerous metabolic processes taking place in our body. It also regulates the functioning of various vital organs in the body like the heart. It controls other phenomena like breathing. All this follow a pattern that is the same day after day. There is an internal clock in our body, a mechanism in the brain that works according to the different times of the day and the night. This clock is variously called biorhythm or circadian rhythm. It affects various aspects of our body like the body temperature, sleep-wake cycles, eating habits, digestion, hormone releases, and so on.

The human brain has a biological clock, circadian rhythm, or biorhythm of a diurnal being. In other words, we are hardwired to be waking in the day and sleeping in the night. All our bodily functions are programmed to work properly when we sleep in the night and are awake during the day. That is, Nature wants us to make the sun our clock. Have we done that?

Our daily habits and lifestyle have drastically changed over some decades. Particularly in the case of millennials, the daily routine has been distorted to a large extent. Food habits, social behaviour, hygiene, sleep-wake cycles, and many other integral aspects of the daily life of a human being have been significantly changed. Human beings are not behaving as human beings, at least not as they were programmed to behave by Nature.

Sleep is crucial to the normal functioning of the human body. It is during sleep that the body breaks down the food consumed during the day in order to assimilate it into the body. It is during sleep that the mind relaxes and releases stress. Only with proper rest can a person get the complete results of physical exercises and workouts. Circadian rhythms regulate the speeding up or slowing down of many bodily functions. For instance, in the day time, the body is prepared for more activity while the body is conditioned for lesser activity during the night. Most of our organs, if not all, function according to specific rhythms depending upon different periods of the day and the night. Therefore, any change in the sleep-wake cycles affects all these organs.

It has been proven over and again by researchers that the human body delivers its optimum performance only when it follows biorhythms to the maximum. Any change in the various cycles that we are supposed to follow naturally because of the way human beings are built, leads to various problems in the body and the mind. The environment is crucial in maintaining the circadian rhythms. So, while you might think that you could just darken your room and go to sleep during the day that would not work because the surroundings are not as calm and silent as during the night.

Circadian rhythms or biorhythms also influence the emotional behaviour of the human beings. Researchers have found a correlation between disturbances in biorhythms and accidents in factories or roads. When a person is in a critical phase of the circadian or biorhythmic cycle, that person is prone to commit mistakes and end up being a victim of an accident. Circadian rhythms or biorhythms have been known to operate in cycles that could be classified as physical, emotional, intellectual, intuitive, aesthetic, self-awareness, and spiritual. They can be also classified as time cycles of multiple years, annual, monthly, weekly, and daily.

What is the reason of this shift from diurnal activity of human beings to nocturnal activity? 

It is technology and the desire for achieving more than we can. We work when we are supposed to sleep. We sleep when we are supposed to be awake. Across the world, all traditional systems of schooling emphasise the importance of waking up early. In the Eastern traditions, waking up at least half an hour before sunrise and going to bed a few hours after sunset was considered an essential habit for a healthy living. All students, both of the secular and spiritual sciences, were required to do the first study or spiritual practices for the day in the brahma muhurta, the time of Brahman, that is approximately from 3.30 a.m. to 5.30 a.m.

The main reason for a major change in the sleep-wake cycles of Indians is the increase in Indians working for multinational corporations having their headquarters on the other side of the globe, where the day and night cycles are exactly opposite in timings to the Indian day and night cycles. In order to do work for these multinational corporations, Indians have to remain awake when it is night in India, so that those in the West have no discomfort. In search of money and prestige, countless Indians are spoiling their physical and mental health beyond repair. Cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cholesterol, and various other ailments are on the rise in India. Many of these ailments have been found to have a direct link with erratic sleep-wake cycles.

Today, India is one of the countries in the world with a young workforce. Indians are damaging this precious human resource by becoming greedy for having more by working on the terms of multinational corporations. These multinational corporations do not seek India for doing charity. They seek India because they get cheap skilled labour. Indians should have the wisdom of demanding healthier working hours. If multinational corporations want to profit from cheap Indian skilled labour, let them adjust their time-tables for their Indian workforce and let them get work from people in India only during the Indian day. This is the only way India can save her youth from getting weaker by the day. This is the only way that Indians can return to their being human beings. This is the only way they can stop becoming owls and bats.

Author is Editor Prabuddha Bharata.


To read all articles by the Author


This article was first published in the November 2019 issue of Prabuddha Bharata, monthly journal of The Ramakrishna Order started by Swami Vivekananda in 1896. This article is courtesy and copyright Prabuddha Bharata. I have been reading the Prabuddha Bharata for years and found it enlightening. Cost is Rs 180/ for one year, Rs 475/ for three years, Rs 2100/ for twenty years. To subscribe https://shop.advaitaashrama.org/subscribe/

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