Getting Back In Tune With Nature

by Dr. Fareen

Our bodies are intimately and naturally linked to the cycles of the sun and moon. Being synchronized with the natural cycles of light and dark is essential to good health. We have daily, monthly, and seasonal cycles that affect virtually all functions of our bodies down to the cellular level.

In Tune With Daily Cycles

Morning and evening are especially significant times for resetting our inner clocks. Awakening gradually with the sun, which stimulates the hormone serotonin, allows our body to peacefully resolve its sleep cycles and prepare us for the day. If we are in tune, our heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, and cortisol (a hormone that defends against stress) level increase before we wake up. In the evening, these functions should decrease, while darkness triggers increased production of the sleep-inducing hormones melatonin and prolactin. 

In Tune With Monthly Cycles

Both women and men experience monthly cycles in hormone production and other bodily processes. Women’s menstrual cycles were once regulated by the cyclic changes in moonlight. Artificial and electric lighting throw off those cycles, resulting in menstrual irregularities, infertility, premenstrual depression, and difficult childbirth. Seed Cycling is a nice way to attune to monthly cycles of the moon. Let me know if you’d like to learn more. I’d be happy to share what I know.

In Tune With Seasonal Cycles

Our annual body cycles follow the seasons: As the days lengthen toward summer, our daily alertness phase also lengthens; our hearts and lungs handle exercise better; and we need less sleep. In winter, we become slower, we sleep longer and more deeply, we eat more, and we store body fat more easily; we move toward hibernation.

The Dangers Of Desynchronization

These days most of us tend to be out of sync. We get too little sleep, awaken by an alarm clock, jump-start ourselves with caffeine and sugar, work indoors under steady levels of electric light all day and then have difficulty sleeping. Not only are we out of harmony with the sun and moon, but our complex biological functions get out of phase with each other.
Natural, full-spectrum light is a necessary nutrient. When it enters our eyes, it activates our endocrine system, which is connected to our immune system and our nervous system. Under artificial electric lights, we are missing the portion of the sun’s spectrum that is vital in triggering the production of a proper chemical balance of melatonin and serotonin. When this “desynchronization” occurs, our health declines. We may become tired, depressed or anxious; our sleep may be disturbed; digestion and metabolism can be thrown off; and we generally become more vulnerable to illness. 

Studies are beginning to show the consequences of desynchronization. Night nurses have significantly higher rates of heart attacks and breast cancer than the general population (up to 70 percent higher in some studies). Rotating shift workers have increased coronary artery disease, sleep disorders, respiratory problems, lower back pain, intestinal disorders, job stress, emotional problems, injuries, and drug and alcohol abuse. Those of us who routinely go to sleep at night may not suffer such extreme symptoms, but they are a warning of how serious desynchronization can become.

Get Your Groove Back

All of this points to some simple solutions: daylighting, passive solar heating, outdoor living spaces, and greater contact with the natural environment. Gradually awakening with the sun, working near windows, getting outdoors during the day, and turning down lighting levels toward bedtime can make a radical difference in how we feel.

Posted by Dr. Fareen

Leave a Reply