A Poor Night's Sleep may be in your Genes

By  , Agency News
Jun 21, 2013

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Tired Man Trying to Sleep

According to a new study, a gene SIRT1 that is responsible for regulating sleep and circadian rhythm is also linked to aging and increased risk for diseases that accompany poor sleeping habits. Researchers have also discovered that a lack of sleep can cause a host of negative health effects. These findings may explain why the risk for chronic diseases, such as cancer and diabetes increases when your circadian rhythm is disrupted.

Disruption in the circadian rhythm which regulates in the brain by a 24-hour cycle of light and darkness is common among shift workers. This disruption increases risk of a number of diseases like obesity. Study author Leonard Guarente, MD, a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said that everything that takes place physiologically is linked with the circadian cycle.

Sean Hagberg, MD, assistant clinical professor of neuroscience at the University of New Mexico added that maintaining the circadian cycle is quite important in health maintenance, and if it gets broken, there's a penalty to be paid in health and perhaps in aging. It is because; the circadian rhythm organizes all of the timing of all the activity in your body like your personal calendar.

To prove this study, researchers have observed mice with different levels of SIRT1, and found that those with lower levels of the gene face difficulty in adjusting with their circadian clock as the day went on. SIRT1 levels decrease with age, researchers said, so disruptions to your internal clock pose more damage.

Hagberg suggested that instead of waiting around for a gene therapy to help fix your circadian rhythm, it is best to take a walk outside and relax. The simplest thing one can do to improve circadian rhythms and cell function is to get out in the daylight.

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