The Circadian Code Book Summary - The Circadian Code Book explained in key points
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The Circadian Code summary

Satchin Panda

Lose Weight, Supercharge Your Energy, and Sleep Well Every Night

4.5 (61 ratings)
20 mins
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    The Circadian Code
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    Seeing the light

    Primitive humans naturally slept at night and were active during the daytime. The discovery of fire was a major turning point, as it provided light and protection at night. Still, for most of history, artificial light at night was rare and expensive. 

    It was only in the twentieth century, with widespread electric lighting, that humans really began extensively disrupting their circadian cycles. Shift work, evening entertainment, computers, etc. now stimulate our brains with light late into the night. 

    This allowed humans to work, eat, and play at all hours under bright indoor lights. But our bodies are still programmed to align with daylight. So constant artificial light – especially blue light at night from screens – disrupts our circadian clocks. 

    Light influences the body's clock through retinal cells called melanopsin. Blue light tricks them into thinking it's daytime, which suppresses melatonin and disrupts sleep. Chronic circadian disruption from modern lighting makes us prone to obesity, diabetes, depression, cancer, and more. Studies show that shift workers in particular, or those whose schedule changes from day to night work regularly, are particularly susceptible.

    But understanding how light wavelengths affect melanopsin at different times of day can help optimize lighting to fight these effects. Reducing blue light exposure at night, for instance, and getting natural daylight in the morning, both help mimic natural cycles of light and dark to resynchronize circadian rhythms.

    Further breakthroughs have uncovered that genes in the liver and other organs turn on and off cyclically, too. This daily genomic rhythm regulates metabolism. Disrupting it can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other chronic health issues widespread today.

    So it isn’t just genetics that predispose people to illness or ill health, but how we follow, or disrupt, our bodies' cycles. 

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    What is The Circadian Code about?

    The Circadian Code (2018) presents a fascinating look at the science of circadian rhythms – how human biology is timed in daily cycles. It reveals how small tweaks in things like the timing of meals, exercise, or light exposure can have an outsized impact on health and well-being.

    Who should read The Circadian Code?

    • Frustrated dieters looking for a breakthrough
    • Anyone looking for better sleep or more energy when they’re awake
    • Health optimizers looking for simple daily habits than can maximize well-being

    About the Author

    Dr Satchin Panda is a leading researcher in the field of circadian rhythms. He is an associate professor at the Regulatory Lab of the Salk Institute, and a recipient of the Dana Foundation Award for Brain and Immune System Imaging.

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