Digital image of clocks layered over clocks for circadian rhythm PPMA Private Physicians Medical AssociatesCircadian rhythm at work — Imagine that you have a 24-hour timer inside your body that tells you what to do and when to do it. That’s your circadian rhythm. It’s like a master switch that controls millions of tiny things that keep you healthy and alive. It decides when you feel hungry or sleepy, how much fat you burn or store, and many other things. This timer is run by special genes that act like alarm clocks for different parts of your body.

Curious about your body’s schedule for tending to various tasks? Check it out!

image of man asleep in bed ppma private physicians medical associatesFalling asleep

People usually need 10 – 20 minutes to nod off.  If you fall asleep faster than that, you may be sleep-deprived.  If it takes you an hour or longer, you may have sleep onset insomnia. Eliminate caffeine and sugary snacks and beverages for the afternoon and try a meditation or other relaxing technique before you wind down for bedtime.

Image of a man feeling full and holding his belly after a large meal circadian rhythm PPMA private physicians medical associatesDigest a meal

The process of digestion involves breaking down food and absorbing the nutrients. The food first passes through the stomach and remains there for several hours. Then, it enters the large intestine where it undergoes further digestion and water absorption. Finally, the undigested food is eliminated from the body as feces. This entire process can take from two to five days, depending on the individual.

The digestion time also varies depending on the type of food consumed. For example, fruits and vegetables are easier to digest and have a shorter gastric residence time. However, foods such as grains, beans, meat and dairy are more difficult to digest and have a longer gastric residence time. If the meal contains a high amount of protein or fat, it can take even longer for the food to leave the stomach.

Image of woman wrapped in a blanket blowing her nose sick with a cold ppma private physicians medical associatesGet over a cold

Colds can last from a few days to 2 weeks for most adults, but it can vary depending on the virus causing it, your immune system, and how you take care of yourself. Some people may have symptoms for only a few days, while others may have them for up to 2 weeks. If symptoms don’t clear up after 2 weeks, or if you have a high fever, trouble breathing, or signs of a secondary infection such as ear pain or sinus infection, you need to be seen in the office.

Image of martini glass with lemon wedge and giant splash ppma private physicians medical associatesMetabolize alcohol

When you drink alcohol, your body gets rid of it at a steady speed of about one drink every hour. But this speed can change depending on things like your gender, age, weight, how much food you ate, and what kind of alcohol you drank. One drink means about 14 grams of alcohol, which is in 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1.5 ounces of liquor. Your liver does most of the work to get rid of alcohol using special chemicals called enzymes. These enzymes change alcohol to a harmful substance called acetaldehyde and then to a harmless substance called acetate. Acetaldehyde can hurt your body and cause cancer. Acetate is then turned into water and carbon dioxide and leaves your body. Some alcohol is also gotten rid of by other enzymes or by your kidneys, lungs, and skin.


How long it takes to re-hydrate depends on how dehydrated you are. If you’re very dehydrated, you may need to go to the hospital and get fluids through a needle for a day. If you’re not so dehydrated, you may be able to re-hydrate by drinking water or other drinks. Some sources say you can re-hydrate in 45 minutes by drinking a big bottle of water. Others say you can do it in 5 minutes if your stomach is empty. The best way to re-hydrate is to drink water often and listen to your thirst. You can also drink drinks that have electrolytes, like sports drinks or those special packets you mix with water. They’re good for you if you’ve lost water through sweating, vomiting, or diarrhea. Milk, fruits, and veggies are also good for hydration and nutrition.

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