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    How To Reset Your Circadian Rhythms To Build The Perfect Study Routine For Exams

    By Irshad Anwar
    16 Jan'23  9 min read
    How To Reset Your Circadian Rhythms To Build The Perfect Study Routine For Exams

    Do you have trouble staying awake and focused while studying? Are you aware of the Circadian Rhythm and how it affects your study schedule, productivity, and focus? Can you reset it? If yes, how? Learn more about the master clock, Circadian Rhythm, and how to reset it.

    How To Reset Your Circadian Rhythms To Build The Perfect Study Routine For Exams

    Do you have trouble staying awake and focused while studying? Are you aware of the Circadian Rhythm and how it affects your study schedule, productivity, and focus? Can you reset it? If yes, how? Learn more about the master clock, Circadian Rhythm, and how to reset it.

    Make sure you schedule the appropriate activities for the appropriate times. This is because it's important to know your biological clock and reset your circadian rhythm well in advance for the exam. By doing this, you'll make sure that during the exam, you stay focused and awake.

    Furthermore, there is no right or wrong way to plan your study time. Time preferences and brain activity vary from every individual. But be careful that it doesn't interfere with you during your exam.

    Biological Clock

    A biological clock is a built-in mechanism that regulates an organism's physiological activities, which alter on a daily, seasonal, yearly, or other predictable cycle.

    In order for life to function and for behaviour to be organised and coordinated, biological clocks are essential. Basic behavioural functions – for example, timing inactive and active periods during the day or night cycle to minimise risk and maximise productivity – depend on internal clock functions. The timing of various bodily functions, including circadian rhythms (the sleep-wake cycle), hormone secretion, blood pressure, and even metabolism, are regulated by biological clocks.

    We now understand the genetics underlying biological clocks, how they are set, and how clocks regulate physiological and behavioural processes thanks to de Marain's early recognition of the existence and operation of biological clocks and Aschoff's significant investigations in the middle of the 1900s. It is even possible to monitor and better comprehend ageing using biological rhythms.

    The following are the main processes that the biological clock controls and where it’s control loosens:

    • The biological clock controls sleep, with light serving as the primary external stimulus to maintain its setting. This is why most people sleep at night and need darkness.

    • Food plays a key role in synchronising the circadian rhythms of the body's peripheral tissues.

    • Since metabolism is in charge of organising energy production in a way that matches the energy demands during the day, it is directly related to circadian rhythm and food intake.

    • During wakefulness, when the body's demands are increasing, the immune response is more effective.

    • Age does affect circadian rhythm control. As a result, elderly people struggle with routine activities like sleeping and producing energy.

    • Travelling across the Atlantic or between continents wears one out physically and mentally and throws off one's biological rhythms. This causes “jet lag”.

    • Although it is not yet known how, circadian rhythms appear to control cell cycle and cellular differentiation as well.

    Circadian Rhythm

    Circadian Rhythm Meaning: The word “circadian” has its root in the Latin phrase "circa diem" meaning "about a day”. The circadian rhythm is known as a cycle of change (physical, mental, and behavioural) that completes within 24 hours. Such type of cycles include the sleep-wake cycle, body temperature change, and release of hormones such as melatonin and cortisol.

    The circadian rhythm is influenced by a biological clock, but not all biological clocks are circadian. Plants, for instance, use a biological clock with timing that differs from a 24-hour cycle to adapt to the changing seasons.

    Your body naturally generates circadian rhythms. The Period and Cryptochrome genes are two of the most crucial genes in this process for humans. These genes produce proteins that accumulate at night and decrease during the day in the nucleus of the cell. These proteins may assist in triggering feelings of alertness, vigilance, and sleepiness, according to research done on fruit flies. Circadian cycle, however, are also influenced by environmental signals. For instance, the body's activation of the Period and Cryptochrome genes can be reset by exposure to light at a different time of day.

    Master Clock

    Different systems of the body follow circadian rhythms that are synchronised with a master clock in the brain. All biological clocks are coordinated by a master clock in the brain, which keeps all the clocks in sync. A master clock is a collection of about 20,000 nerve cells (neurons) found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus, also known as the circadian pacemaker, and found in all vertebrate animals, including humans. It is specifically located in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which is located in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain. Clock genes in the SCN release signals at various times of the day to control activity throughout the body.

    The SCN is extremely sensitive to light, which acts as a crucial external cue that affects the signals the SCN sends to synchronise internal clocks in the body. Circadian rhythms are thus closely linked to day and night. Over time, behavioural patterns and environmental stimuli have an impact on circadian rhythms. The master clock can be influenced by other cues like exercise, social interaction, and temperature, but light has the greatest impact on circadian rhythms.

    Light exposure during the day prompts the master clock to send signals that heighten awareness and support keeping us awake and active. The SCN interprets sunlight as daylight when it reaches the eyes, which causes the release of cortisol, one of the hormones that help us wake up. The fading of light into darkness at night is read by the SCN as the time to sleep. The hormone that causes sleep, melatonin, is released as a result.

    The master clock then keeps on sending signals to help keep us asleep all night..

    In order to establish a consistent cycle of restorative rest that permits increased daytime activity, our circadian rhythm lines up our sleep and wakefulness with day and night.

    How To Know It’s Time To Reset The Circadian Rhythm

    Your circadian rhythm might need to be reset if you:

    • struggle to get to sleep

    • have trouble staying awake in the evening

    • find it difficult to wake up in the morning

    • are unable to concentrate on daily tasks and responsibilities.

    There are two ways to construct a topper's routine: first, understand your biological clock and plan your study or work schedule accordingly. Alternatively, create a schedule and set your biological clock to the appropriate time. The first method is easy

    Let's talk about the second option, which is more fruitful but also more difficult.

    Also check - How Transgenic Animals Can Help Human Kind

    How To Reset Your Circadian Rhythm(Sleep-Wake Cycle)


    The following methods are suggested for successfully changing your circadian rhythm and sleep-wake cycle:

    Embrace The Morning Sun

    As soon as you wake up, you should begin to prioritise sleep. Morning exposure to natural light signals to the brain to stop producing melatonin and begin producing cortisol. The first light of the day helps to reset the body's internal circadian clock, making you feel more awake during the day and sleepy at night. This reinforces the cue.

    Setting The Same Time

    Set a regular sleep schedule to wake up at the same time every day. This will help reset your circadian rhythm. Your body will learn to adjust to the new rhythm by sleeping and waking up at the same time every day.

    Set an alarm so that you can wake up at the scheduled time even if you are unable to go to sleep at a preferred time. This will keep you on track.

    Avoid Caffeine

    Caffeine is a natural stimulant that keeps you alert. However, caffeine has a more significant impact on sleep because it inhibits adenosine receptors, which prevent arousal and thus increase sleepiness. Caffeine interferes with our circadian rhythms and prevents the adenosine from building up, which keeps us alert. Researchers discovered that caffeine can cause a 40-minute delay in our circadian rhythm. Another investigation revealed that caffeine could have an impact on sleep for up to six hours after consumption. And for this reason, it is advised to reduce your daily consumption and try to consume coffee in the first half of the day and avoid it at least four-to-six hours before bed.


    There is a somewhat symbiotic relationship between exercise and sleep. Exercise is a powerful signal for the circadian clock. Proper exercise can significantly shift your circadian phase and impact your sleep-wake cycle. According to research from Arizona State University, those who exercised in the morning advanced their body clock, while those who exercised in the evening delayed it, making it harder for them to fall asleep and making them more sleepy the next day. Exercise has numerous advantages regardless of the time, and the best time to do it is whenever you have some free time. However, timing is crucial with everything related to the circadian rhythm, so avoid exercising within one-two hours before going to bed.

    Keep Your Naps Short

    Numerous studies have demonstrated that napping enhances focus, logical thinking, and alertness. On the other hand, excessively long naps can have detrimental effects, such as disrupting sleep. Long naps can cause sleep inertia, which is an immediate state of poor cognitive function after waking up. In order to reap the benefits of revival without disturbing our body clock, healthy adults should ideally nap for no more than 10 to 20 minutes.

    Meal Time

    Our hunger cues and digestion are governed by circadian rhythms. According to some studies, eating earlier or later can change how your circadian rhythm regulates these processes, making you feel alert and tired at times other than those you've gotten used to. Having a set window of time for eating is a good idea.

    Don’t Be Awake In Bed

    Despite being exhausted, some people may have trouble falling asleep. Richard Bootzin, the inventor of stimulus control and cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia, advises going to bed only when you're tired. If you can't fall asleep within 20 minutes, get up, move to a different room, and do something unstimulating, like reading a dull book. This aids in resetting the brain, promoting sleepiness, and breaking up bad bedtime associations.

    Keep Blue Light Out At Night

    Electronic devices used at night emit blue light, which tricks your body into believing it is daytime by suppressing the production of melatonin, the hormone responsible for regulating sleep. Blue light has the strongest effect on the circadian system.

    To reduce your exposure to blue light in particular, and to simulate the natural transition into darkness in order to align your sleep cycle, try turning off your TV, phone, and tablet and dimming the lights at least an hour before bed.

    Set Up Cues

    Do the following to create a conducive sleep environment:

    • Reduce noise – put your phone on silent, lock the door, draw the curtains, and turn off the TV.

    • Keep your space cool; the optimum temperature range is between 16 and 18 degree Celsius.

    • Dim the lights

    • Correct bedding

    • Grab a good book to unwind

    The Alarm Clock

    You need an "anchor time" to start the day because your body clock follows a series of circadian rhythms. Don't hit the snooze button; set an alarm and adhere to it. Your body ought to start waking up naturally at the time you prefer after two or three weeks. Changes to a sleep schedule as small as one night can cause problems with sleep initiation and maintenance. Consistent irregular sleep routines are associated with greater health problems.

    Also, read | Science Behind the Building and Breaking of Habits.

    • Health
    • Determinants of health
    • Physiology
    • Zoology
    • Sleep
    • Animal physiology
    • Mental states
    • Neuroscience
    • Unsolved problems in neuroscience
    • Circadian rhythm

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