During the day, do you feel more awake or fatigued at different times? A person’s sleep and wake patterns are influenced by their circadian rhythm and sleep/wake homeostatic system. These systems are in charge of determining when and how much sleep you need.
Sleep/Wake Homeostasis and Sleep Drive
“Homeostasis refers to a state of equilibrium between the various components of an organism or group… The “sleep drive” or “sleep pressure” is a term used to describe how much we want to sleep in relation to how much we want to be awake. It’s our body’s way of alerting us when it’s time to get some shuteye. After a period of imbalance, our sleep desire decreases. At this point in the process, we know it’s time to get up and move.
As a result of sleep/wake homeostasis, we would be constantly swinging between sleep and alertness throughout the day. As we got more sleep, we became less attentive, and our alertness peaked in the morning. At 4:00 p.m., we can feel just as awake as at 10:00 a.m., even though we have been awake for hours. Due to our circadian rhythm’s role in controlling our sleep schedule as well as sleep/wake balance, this is the case.
Sleep Drive and Circadian Rhythm
Our circadian cycle mimics a condition of equilibrium when we are exposed to sunshine. Our circadian rhythm determines the amount of sleepiness and wakefulness we feel during the day, and this affects our attentiveness level.
People are at their most worn-out after lunch when it is referred to as the “afternoon slump.”. Our sleep/wake balance, of course, affects our level of alertness and weariness. When we don’t get enough sleep, we’re more fatigued than when we’ve had enough.
Because of this, the majority of people’s internal clocks are set to nearly coincide with the sun’s path through the sky. The disruption of our circadian rhythm and, subsequently, our desire to sleep, can occur as a result of being exposed to artificial light late at night.
What Controls Our Circadian Rhythm?
What does our biological clock use to tell us what time it is each day?? Hypothalamic SCN cells respond to light and dark cues from our surroundings to regulate our circadian biological clock. The SCN is in charge of regulating the circadian rhythm of the body. When we detect light, our retinas send a signal to the SCN. Hormone synthesis and suppression are triggered by the SCN, which has an effect on several physiological activities, including body temperature, hunger, and sleepiness.
When our body temperature rises and the sun comes out, cortisol is released into the bloodstream. As the day gives way to darkness in the evening, melatonin levels rise and core temperatures fall. Melatonin levels stay elevated throughout the night. SCN inhibits melatonin production in response to light detection, keeping us awake. Because of this, it’s tough to get to sleep at night if you’re near a computer or television that emits blue light.
Does Sleep Drive Change as We Age?
The circadian rhythm of the majority of humans experiences considerable modifications over several stages of life, including birth, adolescence, and old age.
When a baby is born, his or her circadian rhythms are still evolving. The Baby’s sleep cycle requires 18 hours or more of undisturbed rest. After four to six months of life, a newborn begins to sleep through the night.
In adolescence, up to 16% of teenagers experience a sleep phase delay. Because of this circadian shift, their melatonin levels don’t begin to rise until later in the evening. Because they are more attentive at night, it is more difficult for them to fall asleep before 11 p.m. It is more difficult for adolescents to get the recommended 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night if school starts earlier. Sleep deprivation can make it difficult for many teenagers to focus in class.
After the age of thirty, many of us find it increasingly difficult to fall asleep. As we age, our body’s internal sleep clock gets less accurate. To put it another way, sleep deprivation and cognitive decline are both aggravated in older persons since they get tired and get up at a different time each day. Dementia, Alzheimer’s, and other brain diseases impair an aged person’s capacity to sleep on their own.
What Happens if Your Sleep Drive Is Off?
You may have daytime fatigue and nighttime jitters if your sleep drive is disrupted. Daylight Saving Time and jet lag can cause insomnia and daytime tiredness because of changes in daylight exposure. A rapid shift in the time and light cues your circadian rhythm depends on throws your brain and body into a loop. It is possible that your circadian rhythm will be disrupted and that you will feel fatigued or ill and have trouble concentrating.
Working irregular hours or midnight shifts can also throw off your circadian cycle. Insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, mental disorders, and an increased risk of workplace accidents or injuries are all possible side effects of shift work disorder. Cortisol, testosterone, and melatonin levels may be out of balance in shift workers.
Your circadian cycle is tough to alter. If you follow regular sleep and wake times, allow yourself seven or more hours of sleep per night and change your meal timings and coffee intake, you can adjust your sleep drive.. Bright light therapy may also be an option for night shift employees. Consult a physician if sleep problems persist despite your efforts to improve your sleeping habits.