Time holds the key

It is a captivating premise— of how our bodies are so spectacularly skilled in preserving balance. When our body’s temperature, for example, increases we sweat to cool down. When our blood pressure levels, likewise, drop, our heart rallies to recompense the shortfall. Everything — from blood pressure to brain function — fluctuates rhythmically with the cycles of the sun, moon and the seasons. Such old insights are yielding new, also newer, strategies in contemporary medical practice — the planned use of time in treatment, or what is called chronotherapy.

Chronotherapy is nothing but listening to our body’s natural rhythms to making treatment more effective, also less toxic. Take, for instance, asthma, which takes its victim on a bumpy ride, during the night.

This is one primary reason why asthmatics should aim to keep a stable level of medicine in their blood, day and night. New time-centric studies suggest that a high, slow-release dose of asthmatic medications can be just as safe as multiple small doses.

Chronotherapy is allied to studying and analysing our inner ‘time-piece,’ or bio-clock, that runs us all— especially in consonance with our sleep-wake cycle, regulation of body temperature, tolerance to pain, sensitivity to medications, hormonal levels, or emotional variations during new and full moon nights, among other factors. Yet another classical illustration of the process is jet-lag. A similar spectacle takes place in plants, too.

Picture this: leaves that rise and fall, petals that open and close, including myriad functions that drive chemical changes, along with photosynthesis and reproduction — in other words, the mechanism of flowering.

What drives the bio-clock has enthralled us from the time of Aristotle. Just think of it —every cadence of the bio-clock rises and falls with ‘computerised’ regularity and as-yet-undiscovered sense of equilibrium. So delicate is this balance that a bio-clock that goes awry, not only in its wake-sleep cycle, but also by way of its full day-night pattern, can cause health problems, including depression.

The best part: the clock is always ticking and yet we do not hear it. This only reflects the fact that our senses can perceive not just our bodily cycles, but also the ups and downs in our environment. It provides us with a fine sense of time, also timing, to managing, functioning and navigating resourcefully through life and career