Stress and Disrupted Circadian Rhythms

1. Stress affects everyone. 


Everyone experiences stress from time to time. There are different types of stress—all of which carry physical and mental health risks.A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time. Some people may cope with stress more effectively and recover from stressful events more quickly than others. 1

Examples of stress include:

>   Routine  stress related to the pressures of school, work, family, and other daily responsibilities.
>   Stress  brought about by a sudden negative change, such as losing a job, divorce, or illness.
>   Traumatic  Stress experienced during an event such as a major accident, war, assault, or natural disaster where people may be in danger of being seriously hurt or killed. People who experience traumatic stress may have very distressing temporary emotional and physical symptoms, but most recover naturally soon. 1
>   Environmental  Stress, both natural and unnatural. 

Environmental stress can include: 

   -  Unnatural  light received by our eyes that is out of rhythm with the Earth’s day and night cycles from unprotected electronic screens after dark

    EMF (electromagnetic frequencies) from cell phones, Wi-Fi, Smart Meters, Bluetooth devices, TV’s and household appliances, cell towers and power lines

   - Environmental  noise  pollution

   - Toxic environmental waste

   -  Geopathic stress created by natural disturbances such as geological faults and underground water, or through man-made disturbances such as high speed travel (plane, train or car), aboveground or underground power lines or electrical systems.

2. Long-term stress can harm your health.

Coping with the impact of chronic stress can be challenging. Because the source of long-term stress is more constant than acute (short-term)stress, the body never receives a clear signal to return to normal functioning.With chronic stress, those same lifesaving reactions in the body can disturb the immune, digestive, cardiovascular, sleep, and reproductive systems. Some people may experience mainly digestive symptoms, while others may have  headaches, sleeplessness, sadness, anger, or irritability. 1

Over time, continued strain on your body from stress may contribute to serious health problems, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and other illnesses, including mental disorders such as depression or anxiety.

3. There are ways to manage stress. 

If you take practical steps to manage your stress, you may reduce the risk of negative health effects. Here are some tips that may help you to cope with stress:

      >   Be observant. Recognize the signs of your body’s response to stress, such as difficulty sleeping, increased alcohol and other substance use, being easily angered, feeling depressed, and having low energy. Journaling a small amount daily helps to get your feelings out on paper and can be a powerful stress coping tool over time. Remember … if you can feel it you can heal it!

      >   Get regular exercise. Just 30 minutes per day of walking can help boost your mood and improve your health.

      >   Eat foods rich in antioxidants such as fruits and vegetables.

      >   Try a relaxing activity. Explore relaxation or wellness programs, which may incorporate meditation, muscle relaxation, breathing exercises, listening to soothing relaxation music, engaging in yoga, take relaxing baths, take deep,cleansing breaths throughout the day.

      >   Schedule regular times for these and other healthy and relaxing activities.Breath and movement are required for a healthy body and mind.

   >   Remember ... the mind follows the breath and the body follows the mind! There are many online offerings for these through your local wellness centers and gyms at very affordable pricing.

   >   As the Nike saying goes, JUST DO IT!

      >   Set goals and priorities. Decide what must get done now and what can wait. Learn to say “no” to new tasks if you start to feel like you’re taking on too much. Try to be mindful of what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day, not what you’ve been unable to do.

      >   Stay connected. You are not alone. Keep in touch with people who can provide emotional support and practical help. To reduce stress, ask for help from friends, family, and community or religious organizations.

      >   Talk to your health care provider or a health professional. Don’t wait for your health care provider to ask about your stress. Start the conversation and get proper health care for existing or new health problems.Effective treatments can help if your stress is affecting your relationships or ability to work. Don’t know where to start? Read our Tips for Talking With Your Health Care Provider1

4. The Link Between Stress and Your Circadian Rhythm

If you feel that your life’s too stressful, you are not alone. The American Psychological Association has warned that people are living with more stress than ever before and suffering extreme physical and emotional harm as a result . Stress doesn’t just put you at risk for long-term disease; it can also interfere with your circadian rhythm and leave you feeling exhausted on a daily basis.


The circadian rhythm or body’s internal clock is a natural 24-hour cycle that is important in the regulation of processes tied to hormones,good health, sleep and digestion.


When people are exposed to external stress, the body produces a stress hormone called cortisol for the body to adapt energy metabolism to a fight-or-flight situation.


Like many hormones, cortisol plays a variety of roles in the human body. When we are chronically stressed, it’s released in higher amounts throughout the day. The early light of morning cues the release of ACTH and thus the release of cortisol. Cortisol then causes ACTH production to shut down, and gives  us an energy boost that is much needed when we are getting ready to start our day. 

When people are constantly stressed and producing high levels of cortisol throughout the day, this can cause this negative feedback loop to break down. Even when cortisol levels are high, ACTH production continues, creating yet higher cortisol levels throughout the day that can make it difficult to sleep.

However,this is not the only link between stress and your circadian rhythm. Cortisol also affects circadian genes in liver and adrenal cells. Constant triggering of these genes at random times of day in response to stress can make it so your body never knows exactly what time it is. This can lead to circadian dysregulation in which your body does not release hormones at the right times of the day to support a normal sleep-wake cycle.3

The connection of the stress response and circadian rhythms research has brought about much better understandings of the effects of dysregulated Circadian Rhythms. These effects include 2:

       >  Disrupted sleep and wake cycles

       >  Brain Function

       >  Memory

       >  Cognitive Learning

       >  Mood and Behavior

       >  Immune System Function

       >  Gastrointestinal Complications

       >  Diabetes

       >  Obesity

       >  Depression

       >  Anxiety and Bipolar Disorder

       >  Metabolic and Endocrine Disorders

       >  and much more


Disruptions in our circadian rhythm or ‘internal body clock’ have now been found to be a key factor in our health. All circadian rhythm disorders have in common the disruption of the normal sleep-wake cycle.

A team of researchers at the University of Lübeck in Germany found that stress joined with a disrupted internal body clock heightens the risk of having metabolic disorders, including type 2 diabetes and Obesity. 5


The study, which was presented at the Society forEndocrinology annual conference in Brighton, highlights the effects of stress on the body and how it can cause various health conditions.


We have shown that stress responses depend on the time of day, are affected by the internal body clock and can interact so as to negatively affect food intake and body weight and to predispose to metabolic disorders. These data suggest that body clock rhythm may be an underestimated factor in assessing the impact of chronic stress on general health and well-being,”

~Prof. Henrik Oster at the University of Lübeck in Germany said in a statement. 5

5. What Kinds of Stress are Bad for Your Circadian Rhythm?

Psychological stress is not the only kind of stress that releases cortisol. People also release this hormone when they are under physiological stress, such as when they are at high altitudes, exposed to extreme temperatures or chronically ill.Studies in chronobiology have found that even people who go to space experience this stress and the resulting circadian dysregulation.2 

In addition,people who engage in shift work, working odd or changing hours also are under physiological stress and thus release high levels of cortisol. Stress and your circadian rhythm interact similarly regardless of the source of your tension,which means that people who are emotionally on an even keel but under physical stress will suffer the same effects. 2

Stress impairs the body via a complex network of interacting signaling cascades. In principle one has to distinguish between the acute stress response preparing the body for rapid action and repeated stress inducing broader alteration and adaptations that are associated with changes in energy metabolism and an elevated risk for psychiatric disorders.4

Take Charge Of Your Stress

Take charge of your stress now to optimize your health and long-term wellness and well-being. You will start sleeping better, feeling more rested and vital in the morning and maintain better energy throughout the day. 

Maintaining energized and balanced 24/7 Circadian Rhythms is foundational to health and well-being. They regulate your sleep and wake cycles, your energy in the morning and throughout the day, all your organs and Chinese meridians, which together regulate the energy strength and flow in the body, your digestion, metabolism, immune system, your mental and emotional balance and overall vitality and well-being.  When stress is lowered, energy can increase and balance and alignment can reestablish itself in the mind and body. 

I look forward to helping you on your journey to a more vital, happier and healthier you through stress reduction and rebalancing and realigning your Circadian Rhythms.

In health and happiness,

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