The whys and wherefores of our inner clocks, zestfully presented by journalist and novelist Orlock (The Goddess Letters, 1987). You say hello, and I say goodbye. So it goes, for people's body clocks are rarely in sync—and, according to Orlock, these internal timekeepers control just about everything we think, feel, or do. Chronobiology has uncovered over a hundred biological rhythms so far, with more on the way. They fall into three categories: ultradian (short—e.g., the firing of neurons); circadian (24-hour—e.g., the wake-sleep cycle); and infradian (long—e.g., the menstrual cycle or—the longest of them all—the life/death cycle). Orlock's jaunty tour of this fledgling science includes plenty of ethology, including Darwin's studies of biorhythms in plants and earthworms. The focus, however, is on humans—who appear to be a lot like puppets tugged by chemical strings. Migraines, calorie intake, alacrity of thought—all bow before internal cycles. Some facts amaze: when asleep, we ordinarily ``breathe through one nostril for three hours, with the tissue in the other nostril slightly engorged, then we switch''; more sobering is Orlock's discussion of the millions of Americans who suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder—serious depression brought on by winter. To battle the cycle blues, Orlock proffers plenty of advice: If you want to lose weight, eat in the morning; for best sex, wait until October; to cure jet lag, splash yourself with sunbeams. How to tell inner time—and how to beat the clock. Fun.
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