Listen to this article
There’s a common mantra in the fitness and wellness realm – “listen to your body.” One definite way of truly listening to your body is to be mindful of the various biological rhythms. While many of us are aware of the ‘circadian rhythm’, the biological clock that regulates and governs our sleep quality and duration, most of us are not aware of ‘infradian rhythms’.
Infradian rhythms pertain to the menstrual cycle, and hence, are an important biological phenomenon to monitor and be familiar with.
To put it simply, infradian rhythm is a biological cycle that extends beyond 24 hours. This is where the reference point of circadian rhythms may be considered, as circadian rhythm lasts for a day, and any bodily cycle that extends beyond a day may be classified as an infradian rhythm.
The menstrual cycle essentially has four phases. The menstruation phase lasts between 1 to 5 days, the follicular phase (pre-ovulation) lasts between 6 to 15 days, the ovulatory phase lasts between 15 to18, and the luteal phase (post-ovulation) lasts between 18 to 30 days. Therefore, a woman’s monthly menstrual cycle could be classified as an infradian rhythm.
Although infradian rhythms are part of a woman’s biological cycle, they could still be optimised like circadian rhythms, considering that menstruation impacts energy levels, mental health, immune system and reproductive health.
Factors such as stress, low body weight, obesity, consumption of contraceptives, chronic diseases such as diabetes, thyroid and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS), could adversely affect the menstruation cycle. This could possibly impact your infradian rhythm.
A disruption in the infradian rhythm could impact your body in the following ways:
1. Fatigue: You may experience a steep drop in energy levels, and experience lethargy and fatigue. This could impact your daily functionality and productivity.
2. Mood fluctuations: Fatigue, menstrual pain, lack of sleep, and in some cases, even anxiety, could lead to irritability. You may experience a sense of being overwhelmed, sad, and hopeless. These symptoms come and go in undefined frequency, making your general mood susceptible to high fluctuations.
3. Eating habits: A disrupted infradian rhythm could make you experience both cravings and aversion towards food. Usually, you may end up desiring junk food with lots of sugar, salt, and carbohydrates. Alternatively, you could also refrain from eating your regular meals altogether. This impacts your overall physical and mental health, as a balanced nutritious diet is paramount to maintaining good health.
4. Immunity levels: During the luteal phase (after ovulation and before the period starts), the immune system takes a toll due to increased levels of progesterone in the body. However, your body produces a vast amount of antibodies during the follicular phase. In case of any disruptions to the infradian rhythm, the body may become more vulnerable to catching infections and developing ailments.
Measures such as sound sleep, eating a nutritious diet, regular exercise, and stress management, could help in optimizing the infradian rhythms.
So ladies, be cognizant of your infradian rhythms, and take active steps to boost your menstrual health!