DOCTOR'S VIEWS ARCHIVE

Circadian Rhythms & Athletics…NFL Odds

STANFORD, CA - More and more scientists are learning about our bodies' biologic rhythms. What are biologic rhythms? In essence, they are the rhythms of life. All forms of life on earth, including our bodies, respond rhythmically to the regular cycles of the sun, moon, and seasons.

For example, as night turns into day, vital body functions, including heart rate and blood pressure, speed up in anticipation of increased physical activity. These and other predictable fluctuations in body function, taking place during specific time cycles, are our biologic rhythms. They are regulated by "biologic clock" mechanisms located in the brain.

Although biologic rhythms can be "reprogramrned" by environmental influences (such as when a person regularly works the night shift and sleeps during the day), they are genetically "hard-wired" into our cells, tissues, and organs.

Medical scientists who study the body rhythms (chronobiologists) have found that these rhythms can affect the severity of disease symptoms, diagnostic test results and even the body's response to drug therapy. (For more information, please read the Body Rhythms article.)

Among the various biologic rhythm cycles that medical chronobiologists study, the 24-hour day/night-activity/rest cycle is considered a key chronobiologic factor in medical diagnosis and treatment. The circadian rhythm (also referred to as the "body clock") is influenced by a specific area of the brain called the hypothalamus.