Chances are, you’ve heard of circadian rhythm, better known as the sleep cycle. But how about your infradian rhythm?
See, our culturescape has upheld the masculine cycles as the standard of how ‘normal’ bodies work. However, the male lifestyle and biological rhythms are miles apart from their counterparts.
Thankfully, we’re in a period of female awakening. And it’s time to reclaim all that makes us so.
Any person with female physiology — that’s half of the world’s population, by the way — experiences an innate ‘second clock.’ It’s called the infradian rhythm.
And when you tune into this particular natural rhythm, you may just find you’ll live a healthier, more balanced life. So let’s get familiar with a part of yourself you may have never known you had.
What Is the Biological Clock?
The biological rhythm, a.k.a. biological clock, is the body’s natural cycle that governs our body’s chemicals and functions. Both genders have the following three, specifically named to show how long it lasts:
- Circadian rhythm: a 24-hour cycle
- Diurnal rhythm: synchronized with the day/night cycle
- Ultradian rhythm: a cycle that is less than 24 hours, but repeated throughout a 24-hour day
Although males and females have these rhythms, females are built a little more differently than males.
In fact, a 2020 study published in Science found that males and females have different circadian rhythms. The researchers analyzed multiple studies on sleep patterns and wakefulness. They found that females were more likely to be active in the morning while males tended to be active at night.
The reason why is yet to be determined, but it’s possible that females have a greater role in nurturing offspring. So this leads to them being in sync with their children, who tend to be active in the morning, according to lead study author Seán T. Anderson, Ph.D.
What’s more, females also have an additional (and equally as important) rhythm. “Women, starting at puberty, from their first period to their last, they have a second clock that gets activated called the infradian rhythm,” explains Alisa Vitti, women’s hormone and functional nutrition expert, bestselling author of WomanCode, and founder of FLO Living.
What Is the Infradian Rhythm?
Now, the word circadian derives from two Latin words. Circa means ‘about’ while dian means ‘day.’ So the full word translates to ‘about a day.’
When it comes to the word infradian, the first part means ‘beyond.’ That translates infradian as ‘beyond a day.’
In fact, the infradian rhythm lasts for an entire month — the normal period being between 26-32 days is normal. Specifically, females move through four phases within any given month. They are:
- Phase 1: Menstruation (your period, which lasts anywhere from 3-7 days)
- Phase 2: Follicular Phase (the 7 to 10 days after your period)
- Phase 3: Ovulation (the 4-7 days in the middle of your cycle where ovulation takes place)
- Phase 4: Luteal (the 10 to 14 days between ovulation and your period)
During each of these phases, you will experience hormonal changes that affect your body temperature, sleep cycle, energy, emotions, sexual impulses, and concentration to name a few.
What Does the Infradian Rhythm Influence?
The infradian rhythm governs more than just your menstruation and ovulation cycles. “In fact, what it turns out to be is that infradian rhythm governs six different systems in the female body,” says Alisa.
These systems include:
- The central nervous system
- Your metabolism
- Your immune functioning
- The gut’s microbiome
- Your stress response system
- The reproductive system
With all these systems that the infradian rhythm influences, it raises several great questions, which was brought up during Alisa’s interview with Vishen on The Mindvalley Podcast:
- How can you take advantage of the 25% shift in your brain that takes place over the month?
- How do you optimize your work and minimize your stress?
- Which workout should you do and when?
- For mothers, how can you organize all the different activities of motherhood?
- How can you biohack your sexual response? And how can your partner get in sync during this time?
You can hit all these points by, first, understanding the different phases of your infradian rhythm. Only then can you implement the appropriate self-care your body so deservedly needs.
4 Phases of the Infradian Rhythm
You are not the same every day, sister. Unlike a lot of men, you can’t just be all like, “Okay, my self-care is getting up at the same time every day, doing the same exercise every day, eating the same diet every day, and working productively between the hours of 9-5 every day.”
It’s not going to happen. It shouldn’t happen. Your self-care as a woman, ideally, should change every week depending on where you are on your cycle. Here’s some advice on what to do week by week.
Week 1: The menstrual phase
The first day of bleeding is considered day one of your menstrual cycle. It’s the decline in your progesterone levels that cause the uterine lining to shed and your period to start.
This is by no means the phase to ‘power through.’ Here are a few tips that can help:
- Be gentle with yourself and accept that you may not be as productive as usual, and that’s ok. Clear your calendar of overwhelming social events and turn inwards, too. While you’re resting, you can check out Alisa’s books, WomanCode and In the FLO.
- Some women find keeping a journal helps them to discover deep insights and plant their seeds of intention for the rest of the month.
- Listen to your body, rest when you can, meditate, do gentle yoga, and put yourself first. No cardio or activities that will wipe you out. Your energy is at an all-time low in this phase, so keep that in mind.
- Don’t go hungry, so eat plenty of healthy fats, such as nuts, seeds, and fish.
Week 2: The follicular phase
Just after your period ends, your pituitary gland releases a hormone called FSH (Follicle Stimulating Hormone), which makes the follicles in your ovaries mature. These follicles house your eggs, and this phase perfectly prepares you for ovulation.
You’ll feel a bit more fresh and bouncy in this phase, with more energy to spare. So it’s the best time to consider these options:
- Use this newfound energy to say ‘yes’ to new experiences, solve problems, explore your creativity, engage in exercises such as cardio and Zumba, and begin to gently embrace your more social side.
- Practice mindfulness and, although it’s tempting, resist the urge to exploit your energy and burn yourself out.
- In terms of food, eat fresh, vibrant, light foods, and energy-sustaining grains like buckwheat to keep your vibe high.
Week 3: The ovulation phase
During your ovulation phase, your body enjoys the fruit of its labor and releases a precious egg. All the hard work your body has done over the last couple of weeks has been leading up to this point.
You’ll be feeling full of energy, and this is both your fertile and highly productive window. This is your time to shine – so harness the power of this phase and enjoy it to the max.
- Throw yourself into your projects.
- Allow yourself to be fully seen and heard by those who surround you, so go out and enjoy networking events.
- Engage in upbeat aerobic exercise.
- Enjoy all that has to do with sexual pleasure. Don’t forget about the foreplay!
- Foods, including broccoli and alfalfa seeds, salmon and tuna, and sunflower and sesame seeds.
Week 4: The luteal phase
During your luteal phase, you may have a dramatic decrease in your tolerance for bullsh*t and your ability to suffer fools.
The desire for connection with others often dwindles as your emotional landscape invites you to turn inwards and tend to your own varying emotions. It can be a rocky phase, especially in the second half, and many women report that their shadow selves come out to play at this time.
- Honor and express your emotions in this phase, and feel free to take lots of time alone.
- Avoid cardio (to avoid unnecessary fat storage) and embrace strength training or yoga.
- Finish your projects and tie up loose ends.
- Eat well, keep your blood sugar stable, and up your calories with slow-burning, healthy carbs (think legumes, brown rice, and quinoa) at this time.
PMS can strike in the tail-end of this phase, so watch out, and make sure you protect yourself from stressful stimuli. Lots of meditation and relaxation in this phase, please.
Keep Going, Sister
Deciding to build your infradian cycle awareness and act on it, is a huge display of self-love.
There’s no greater investment than the investment you make into your own wellbeing and self-care, and Mindvalley is a great place to start.
As a member, you have full access to transformational programs, sisterhood, interactive interviews with leading experts, and beneficial resources to take you from your dreams to your vision.
If you’re already a Mindvalley member, check out Kristina’s Live By Your Own Rules self-love content in your library, as well as further your knowledge with Eric Edmeades’ WILDFIT for food freedom and Ben Greenfield’s Longevity Blueprint for your physical health.
And don’t worry about being perfect. It’s the consistency that counts. As Alisa says, “Just start. There’s boldness in the beginning. Make progress over perfection. Everything is figure-out-able.”
See you at Mindvalley.
Image source: @alisa.vitti