The Rhythm of Life: Getting in Tune with Your Circadian Cycle
Rhythms comfort us with their soothing predictability, and our natural circadian rhythm can help bring restorative sleep and a sense of order to our lives.
To everything, there is a season, and a corresponding rhythm.
I guess it is the musician in me, but I can’t help but observe that, just as there is timing, meter, and rhythm to music, there is something similar in many other elements of life. There is the predictable pattern of the seasons; the cycles of the tides and the moon; the flow of social interactions and speech. The examples are endless.
Circadian rhythms are another example of the rhythmic nature of our lives. Known for their impact on the sleep and wake cycle, they are often tricky for those with bipolar disorder. Circadian rhythms are thought to be influenced by chemicals such as melatonin. The physical environment must be conducive to the production of melatonin, such as the right balance of exposure to sunlight and darkness. Sleep hygiene routines help encourage proper circadian rhythms as well, such as sticking to a specific bedtime and wake time. This can be hard for the bipolar brain to follow, particularly when impulsivity has taken hold. Not to mention, the pressures of work and family life can get in the way as well. That being said, we can and must try our best to put our sleep and proper circadian rhythms first.
There is a song by Jimi Hendrix that I am very fond of, called “Manic Depression.” I love its funky, syncopated rhythms. The way that Jimi weaved dissonance in with harmony, while loud banging sounds interact with quiet, lilting melodic phrases, added to its brilliance.
But like the song says, “Manic depression is a frustrating mess.” This is particularly true when one’s circadian rhythms are out of whack. We must guard our sleep and wakefulness cycles with the same sense of caution, seriousness, and thoroughness that we would our hearts. It can prevent the “frustrating mess” for not only ourselves, but for those around us as well.
There is a rhythm tapping on the window. Raindrops form and fall outside, and the wind gushes with its regular percussive sound, like the brush on the snare of a drum. The spring equinox is on the way. Daylight saving time will soon be here. All of this impacts us, whether we have bipolar disorder or not. But the brain affected by bipolar can be especially sensitive to it.
Yes, life has rhythm. I shall tap my foot in time to its music, in appreciation of its beat.