A circadian rhythm (//), or circadian cycle, is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. It can refer to any process that originates within an organism (i.e., endogenous) and responds to the environment (entrained by the environment). These 24-hour rhythms are driven by a circadian clock, and they have been widely observed in animals, plants, fungi and cyanobacteria.
|Frequency||Repeats roughly every 24 hours|
The term circadian comes from the Latin circa, meaning "approximately", and dies, meaning "day". Processes with 24-hour cycles are more generally called diurnal rhythms; diurnal rhythms should not be called circadian rhythms unless they can be confirmed as endogenous, and not environmental.
Although circadian rhythms are endogenous, they are adjusted to the local environment by external cues called zeitgebers (German for "time givers"), which include light, temperature and redox cycles. In clinical settings, an abnormal circadian rhythm in humans is known as a circadian rhythm sleep disorder.