Rise and Shine!

by Kevin O'Hara

We all know people who get up with the first rays of the sun. Some wake up even earlier, bouncing out of bed before there is even a glimmer of Homer's famous "rosy-fingered dawn" in the Eastern sky. In contrast, for many people leaving the confines of their comfortable bed is a daily exercise in frustration. They know they should get up, they know they should be on time, but each day they find themselves pushing the snooze button just once more. "Really, this is it," they declare. "I'm getting up. Just five more minutes."

What is the difference, the distinction, between those who are able and willing to throw off the covers at an early hour and those who struggle mightily to respond to the summoning of the buzzing or tootling clock-radio? The nature and organization of your biorhythms, your body's set of internal timepieces, provide a large part of the answer.

The field of chronobiology, the study of biologic time, investigates various physiologic biorhythms. In animals, these rhythms are associated with sleeping, eating, metabolic and hormonal regulation, cellular regeneration, and mating. In plants, biorhythms are associated with photosynthesis and movements of leaves and stems. Circadian rhythms describe 24-hour cycles. Diurnal and nocturnal rhythms are active during the day and night, respectively.

There is good news for those who would appreciate the benefits of getting a head-start on the day's activities, but nevertheless, consistently get out of bed 30 minutes late, an hour late, or even later. Circadian rhythms can be changed with commitment and effort. Good health is required in order to successfully cause a shift in one's basic functioning. Will power is not enough, as anyone who has tried to force themselves to get up earlier on a day-to-day basis can attest. A healthy diet and regular, vigorous exercise are key to making any long-lasting change in our biorhythms. Add a strong desire to the mix and long-term positive results can ensue.

Dr. O'Hara's office is located at 940 S. Arthur Avenue in Arlington Heights. For more information, call 847/577-3597

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