In case you hadn’t already heard, daylight saving time is almost upon us (effective local time 2:00 a.m. Sunday, March 12th). If you, like many others, notice that your circadian rhythm becomes disrupted during this yearly occurrence, and find that it takes you a few days or even weeks to adjust, you may want to take time now to plan ahead.
Natural light affects the daily timing of physiological processes, and micronutrients in turn have an effect on our circadian (circa = around, dian = day) rhythms (AKA “body clock” or the sleep/wake cycle) in several ways. In fact, the process of re-adjusting to a new circadian rhythm (“entrainment”) – as in the case of jet lag, shift work, or daylight saving – may be facilitated by vitamin B12, or exacerbated by B12 deficiency. The therapeutic benefits of vitamin B12 have been observed in persons suffering from insomnia, normalizing their sleep-wake cycles. Minerals also play a role: magnesium can impact human circadian rhythms by mimicking the action of the sleep-inducing hormone, melatonin. This might be the explanation behind magnesium’s link to better sleep. Other micronutrients, especially B vitamins such as folate, niacin, and vitamin B6, are cofactors in the production of serotonin, dopamine, and tryptophan, neurotransmitters that have a role in regulating sleep patterns.