Biorhythms – Are They Real?
What Are Biorhythms?
All forms of life follow regular patterns such as the seasons, which change from withering fall mornings to jovial spring days. The dusk of night is followed by the glare of sun; the oceans bulge and regress, ebb and flow…
Similarly, humans are not any different. We too function on a refined rhythm of several cycles ranging from intellectual, spiritual, physical, or even intuitive. These rhythms are collectively known as our biorhythms. In this post we’re going to learn more about biorhythms and how understanding these can help us make the most of whatever the universe presents us with.
The whole scientific system that controls the most crucial traits of one’s life including their vision, emotional welfare and overall performance are operating on biorhythms. The word originates from the Greek language and is a combination of bio (meaning life) and rhythm meaning regular movement.
Biorhythm can simply be defined as “invisible waves of energy within the human body that are constantly in flux.” For each person, these waves are believed to be different and these are activated as soon as we enter the world.
Interestingly, like many other theories, Biorhythm has its own history. How and why the theory came into existence is worth having a glimpse at.
The Emergence of Biorhythms
The theories revolving around biorhythms have been popular since ancient times. The key attribution of surfacing this theory is given to Wilhelm Fliess.
Wilhelm was a close associate and colleague of Sigmund Freud. Although the theory was common amongst some older cultures, particularly those who practiced natal (birth) astrology in ancient times. The exact phenomena was explained by Fliess (based on his observations) as regular at 23- and 28-day intervals cycle, which included deaths and births as well. According to Thomas Gale, Fliess identified the 23-day cycle as “male” and the 28-day cycle as “female”
In 1904, Hermann Swoboda, a well-known Viennese psychology professor concluded similar findings. Based on Swobodas research, Alfred Teltscher, determined the Intellectual Cycle in 1920. Don’t panic if you’re getting confused about the different cycles, we’ll go into more depth in a few moments. Teltscher, professor of engineering at the University of Innsbruck, studied the pattern of his students’ academic performance to conclude that the rhythmic patterns play a pivotal role in governing the performance and mental ability.
In the words of Gale, Fliess defined Biorhythms as “cosmic harmony governed by the solar cycles, measured in days and years, between personal, family, and social events, but also affected by animal and plant kingdoms.” By the 1970s, Bernard Gittelson developed a series of books including Biorhythm Sports Forecasting, A Personal Science, and Biorhythm Charts of the Famous and Infamous.
His company went on to introduce Biorhythm calculators and computers, which were even used at sporting events. Another publication by George S. Thommen – This Your Day? How Biorhythm Helps You Determine Your Life Cycles added to the hype of Biorhythms across the US and North America.
The modern theory identifies Biorhythm cycles for six distinct biorhythmic periods.
- Physical Cycle: The 23 day cycle is focused on overall welfare including physical wellbeing, energy levels, and physical capability. The cycle dictates appropriate times for exertion, recovery and rest.
- Emotional Cycle: This cycle is known to support and administer mood disorders, anxiety, emotional sensitivity and depression management. It has been marked as a 28-day cycle.
- The Intellectual Cycle: The 33 day long cycle particularly aids in determining analytical functioning, and keeping a track can be useful in optimizing work performance, goal setting and achieving deadlines.
- The Intuitive Cycle: The cycle can indicate ideal times for following one’s intellect or relying on the gut. During the high points, its advised to go by one’s gut but during the lows, it’s better to abide by logical reasoning and capabilities.
- The Spiritual Cycle: The 53 day long cycle is known to identify the best time for spiritual awakening and mystical awareness.
- The Aesthetic Cycle: With key focus on creativity, an artist or an admirer of arts, both can derive benefit of the aesthetic cycle with its direction on the creative side.
We can see from the above that there are various forms of biorhythms which make up a persons overall rhythms. These biorhythms all begin the moment we are born and follow predictable patterns based on their interval. Using this knowledge we can determine when it is best to perform certain actions in our lives, and when it is best to avoid certain situations or actions.
The Measuring Tools: Biorhythm Calculators and Charts
An all-inclusive calculator that can measure all six cycles, The Biorhythm.com has a simple method of entering your date of birth into the system and from there it will determine your biorhythm charts for the month. The link will take you to their website, which will show you a very interesting video about some people’s experiences of Biorhythms and how using them can be very advantageous to your life. Or, if you’re not working in harmony with your biorhythms how it can be quite disadvantageous!
It’s interesting to note that I used The Biorhythm.com myself recently and noted that in the middle of January my charts were all heading downward, with almost all the different rhythms going down at the same time. Around this time I contracted Covid-19 and felt horrendous. To my surprise I also noted (with hindsight of course, I didn’t do these charts in January) that the day I began to feel better was the day when my rhythms began an upward cycle again!
Of course this is just one story and is extremely anecdotal. The science in a later paragraph would certainly seem to debunk my experience. But the video at The Biorhythm.com goes into more case studies – some of which are extremely interesting!
Biorhythms and Their Influence on Human Life
The various defined cycles such as that of day and night have significant impact on human life. We inevitably follow patterns that are crucial to our wellbeing and growth. Recently, there has been a lot of emphasis on getting ample sleep; since our health, eating habits, and earning capabilities are strongly correlated with our sleeping patterns. The harmony and synchronizations of biorhythms with the world around us is of utmost importance.
Alaska Sleep Clinic has identified that an adult needs four to five cycles of 90 minutes sleep since the human body runs on circadian rhythms. The sleep experts advise us to adjust our body clocks to achieve the optimum level of sleep. Dr. Roseanne Armitage, a sleep expert at the University of Michigan, believes that lack of focus on optimizing ones sleep cycle can compromise their immunity and stress out their overall health.
Biorhythms: Fact or Fiction?
According to NY Times:
If coaches and athletes were serious about bodily rhythms, they would throw away their computer printouts and keep a detailed diary of their moods and habits. After many months or years, they might discover personal regularities. As Gay Luce, author of “Body Time,” puts it, the formula for biorhythms is childish, but the underlying idea of biological cycles is not.
It should be pointed out that the NY Times isn’t exactly a scientific journal. Nevertheless there’s limited true scientific evidence to support Biorhythms – but we do have evidence of some fairly significant rhythms in our bodies. Of course, females have the well known and documented menstrual cycle which is, in most cases, approx. 28 days long. There is some evidence to suggest men also follow a hormonal cycle of similar length.
There is of course the well known Circadian cycle too, which is a 24 hour cycle which governs our sleep-wake pattern. If this becomes out of kilter for whatever reason then our lives can become quite miserable and our ability to properly function is impaired.
And in our own lives, we often seem to be more emotional, or more susceptible to illness at some times versus others. Often we’ll feel more run down at specific times of the month and yet at others we will be buoyant and refreshed. Science doesn’t seem to have any real answers to this phenomenon either, although the studies linked at the beginning of this post do lend some credence to the theory of some form of biological rhythms.
So, whether we can say that biorhythms really work or not depends on our own perception. To some the idea is waste of time while others believe it to be true. The scientific evidence that we have so far does lead us to consider the idea has some merit and would warrant further study.
So What Does Science Say About Biorhythms?
There’s been much debate, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s about whether there is any scientific evidence to support the existence of Biorhythms. Some people state that there’s enough evidence against the theory of Biorhythms that the subject should not even be called a pseudo-science.
It’s fair to say that science has proven time and again that there is no ability to predict your future from reading biorhythms. A study from 1978 found there was “no evidence for relationship between biorhythms and industrial accidents” (Persinger, Cooke, Janes. 1978).
Natalia Peveto in 1980 published a paper finding a similar conclusion, along with Arthur James in 1984. Both these studies performed specific experiments on test subjects to determine if their performances were any better during times of high biorhythmic phases versus low.
Both studies found no correlation between the biorhythmic cycle and any kind of practical ability.
So, while Fliess may have found correlation in his studies on flowers, there seems to be no such correlation in humans. This is perhaps not overly surprising when we consider that the other biological rhythms with which biorhythms are sometimes compared, are affected by external factors such as stress and environment.
What Do We Think?
We think that it’s highly likely that there is something in the biorhythmic patterns in the human psyche on which Biorhythm proponents rely. If it were possible to tangibly study these particular rhythms in the same way that we could study circadian rhythms through the melatonin hormone, or the menstrual cycle through oestrogen or progesterone, then one might find some form of correlation. Unfortunately at the moment there is no tangible way to do this.
For this reason we believe that Biorhythms exist but there is no feasible way to make use of them to make any individual predictive statements about any upcoming events that one may wish to enquire about. It is, we believe, the equivalent of trying to predict a woman’s first menstrual period by drawing charts starting from the moment she is born. The cycle exists, but it is not consistent enough (for most women) to be of any use predicting anything so far into the future.
In simple short terms, we believe the Biorhythms exist but the time period fluctuates based on external factors and will drift over time rendering it to be essentially meaningless for predictive purposes.
Nevertheless, it can be a fun exercise to see if there is anything in it for each individual who may be interested and there’s certainly plenty of people who believe Biorhythms exist despite there being quantifiable studies suggesting they don’t. As a fun exercise we see no reason why you shouldn’t have a look and see how they stack up for you.
An Interesting Video On The Subject
I’ve mentioned in the article a few times, The Biorhythm.com which is a website service which provides a quick and easy way to calculate your biorhythms and help give you some guidance on interpreting them. It all starts with a very interesting video which goes into some detail about how they work and a rather interesting case study involving the Police and the death of Michael Jackson.
Is it all a coincidence? Perhaps – perhaps not. It’s going to be up to you to decide if you want to take a look. Or not.
Oddly, despite writing this article and knowing the studies cited above, I’m actually using the service myself (as mentioned previously) and so far have found an uncanny association between the biorhythms and my moods and how I feel in general.
Either way it’s a bit of fun and I don’t intend to make any large scale decisions on the back of it. You might want to check it out yourself at The Biorhythm.com
- No Evidence For Relationship between Biorhythms and Industrial Accidents, Michael A. Persinger, Walter J Cooke, Jean T. Janes, 1st April 1978. Perceptual And Motor Skills. Vol 46, Issue 2. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.2466/pms.19126.96.36.1993
- The Relationship of Biorhythms to Academic Performance in Reading, Natalia Lavonne brackin Peveto, 1980. LSU Historical Dissertations And Theses. https://digitalcommons.lsu.edu/gradschool_disstheses/3577/
- The validity of ‘biorhythmic’ theory questioned. A. James, May 1984, British Journal of Psychology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6733392/
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