Circadian Rhythm and Chronic Skin Conditions – What’s the link?

Keeping a chronic skin condition stable when your hormones are running wild can feel like a constant uphill battle.  Not only do we have fluctuating male and female hormones to contend with, but there are stress hormones, sleep hormones and glucose regulating hormones to name a few, all of which work together to create our natural internal rhythm or “circadian clock”.

When we are in balance, our circadian rhythm responds to external cues appropriately.  For example, we are energetic during the day light, sleepy at sun down, hungry during the middle of the day and if female, menstruating in a 4 weekly pattern.   In modern day life, where blue lit screens are often the last thing we see before bed, gyms are open 24/7 and the working day starts and finishes in the dark, it’s no wonder our rhythms go awry. 

So how does this affect the skin?

 Like many organs, the skin is regulated by a central clock known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus which receives light through the retina and passes messages along to other internal clocks via neural and hormonal pathways. It also has its own internal clock system which regulates changes in activity according to the time of day.  For instance, research has shown skin to do the majority of DNA and cellular repair work during the night time.  Skin cells also divide and proliferate more at night, are less hydrated, more acidic and at a slightly higher temperature than during the day, often setting the scene for an uncomfortable night’s sleep for many eczema and psoriasis sufferers.

What can you do to regulate your circadian rhythm and improve your skin?

It’s all in the timing:  Research has shown that the application of topical skin treatments is best timed at night to not only help alleviate the symptoms but to also help optimize repair at a time where the skin needs it most.

Routine, routine, routine:  A regular routine is essential to a healthy circadian and hormonal rhythm.  Chronic disruption to routine such as through shift work, irregular eating patterns or frequent travel can contribute towards flares.  Do your best to time activities within your control, such as regular meal times, breathing exercises, and limiting blue light exposure and/or caffeine before sleep.

Rise with the sun:  The best way to reset your rhythm is to rise with the sun.  Get your 15 minutes of vitamin D exposure and enjoy what nature has to offer before – there’s no better way to start your day. =2

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