Center for Applied Chronobiology

The Center for Applied Chronobiology is a non-profit organization that promotes chronobiology research, and works for real-world impact and transformation.

Chronobiology is the study of circadian rhythms; our patterns of sleep-awake rhythms. You are born with an internal biological clock, a master clock, which sits in the part of the brain called the hypothalamus. The master clock is also called the suprachiasmatic nucleus or SCN – and consists of approximately 20,000 nerve cells. It is variations in human genes that cause us to sleep and be awake at different times of the day. Your circadian rhythm is therefore not something you choose. Some people fall asleep early and get up early, while others fall asleep later and get up later. You are genetically predisposed to be either morning fresh or evening fresh.

The distribution of circadian rhythms, or chronotypes, spans from extreme A-person, early chronotypes, who go to bed early and get up early, to extreme B-person, late chronotypes, who go to bed late and get up late, similarly to how height varies from short to tall.

80 per cent of the population uses an alarm clock on workdays to fit into the old rhythms from the past. The demands of farming life and the rhythmic assembly lines of the industrial society have, through generations and centuries, imprinted their rhythms on our way of thinking. “Working 9-5” by Dolly Parton is the soundtrack to the work rhythm of the industrial society.

Research in chronobiology shows that living out of sync with our internal clocks has a negative impact on our health. In 2018, a large study from Northwestern University showed that late chronotypes have a 10 percent greater risk of dying prematurely compared to early chronotypes.

We need new and more sustainable rhythms in our lives. It’s about time to stop the industrial clocks and give back the power over time to the people.

Camilla Kring