Our Genes Can Tell Time!
While we’ve all heard before that the body has an internal clock, research advancements are continuously made in this field as more people seek to understand the implications of not enough sleep on the regulation of the body’s circadian rhythm.
The circadian rhythm, derived from the Latin words “circa diem” meaning “about a day,” serves as a timing system that allows organisms to adapt to the periodic changes of their environment. Genetic variability may account for differences in individual circadian rhythms. Chronotypes are established using midsleep time (MST), which is defined as the half-way point between onset of sleep and end of sleep, and two such chronotypes are known as the “larks” and “owls.” Individuals are classified as larks if they are active early during the day, while those that are active late during the night as classified as owls. Age and sex can also have an impact on the circadian rhythm.
Due to the vast number of tissues within the human body depending on proper functioning of circadian rhythms, it is no surprise that when this internal clock is desynchronized from the rest of the body, a wide range of disorders can result. Examples of negative consequences include obesity, metabolic syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes; anxiety, depression, and addiction disorders; and even cancer. Getting your beauty rest has never been more important!
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⁃Bollinger, T., & Schibler, U. (2014). Circadian rhythms – from genes to physiology and disease. Swiss Medical Weekly. doi:10.4414/smw.2014.13984
⁃Johnston, J. D. (2014). Physiological links between circadian rhythms, metabolism and nutrition. Experimental Physiology, 99(9), 1133-1137. doi:10.1113/expphysiol.2014.078295
⁃Liu, C., & Chung, M. (2015). Genetics and epigenetics of circadian rhythms and their potential roles in neuropsychiatric disorders. Neuroscience Bulletin, 31(1), 141–159.