Well just to put your mind at rest – you’re not imagining things!
It’s called circadian rhythm misalignment, and it’s a nemesis for many shift workers around the world.
Circadian misalignment is when our endogenous or internal body clock is not consistent with our current environment or behaviour. For example, a shift worker is often up when the sun is down, or eating during the night when everyone else is tucked into bed and sound asleep.
In other words – we’re doing everything backwards.
Our circadian rhythms operate in 24 hour cycles under the masterful instruction of our core master clock, the suprachiasmatic nucleus which is located in the brain, just below the hypothalamus*.
Besides being very hard to pronounce, this nucleus is responsible for coordinating all of our internal rhythms or clocks in a synchronized way, and talks to other tissues within the body which have their own internal clock oscillators such as the gastrointestinal tract or GIT.
And here lies the problem for shift workers. (more…)