Early birds and night owls are born, not made. Sleep patterns are the primary result of the highly individualized biological clocks we inherit, but these clocks also regulate bodily functions from digestion to hormone levels to cognition. Living at odds with our internal timepieces can make us chronically sleep deprived and more likely to smoke, gain weight, feel depressed, fall ill, and fail geometry. By understanding and respecting our internal time, we can live better. In this episode we interview Till Roenneberg, professor of chronobiology at the Institute of Medical Psychology at LMU in Munich, Germany, and author of the book, Internal Time: Chronotypes, Social Jet Lag, and Why You’re So Tired.
“We don’t even know how much sleep somebody needs. We can calculate how much sleep someone gets, but we don’t know if it’s the amount they need. And we know there is a genetic individual difference between how much sleep people need.”
– Till Roenneberg
Quotes from Till:
[shadowbox]“We don’t actually have a very good sense of how to measure time in our brains. We use incidents and events to estimate time, but time itself cannot be measured.”
“The circadian system can create a day within, and that day within can be synchronized to the external day.”
“Your liver cell has a circadian clock, but it doesn’t know when the night is or when the day is because only the eyes can look out into the light environment.”
“Blue light is the most effective light that can adjust our clocks because there are special receptors, melanopsin, that have the maximum peak absorbance in the blue light.”[/shadowbox]
What we learn in this episode:
- What is chronobiology?
- What is the difference between a night own and an early bird? Is it genetic or environmental?
- The science behind out circadian rhythm.
- How can you adjust your circadian rhythm?