sleep and biological clock

An Overview of How Your Sleep and Biological Clock Affect Your Health

Prodigious biomedical research efforts into sleep, the natural daily period of sustained cessation of locomotor activity and overt consciousness, have defined a multitude of functions of this biological activity that regulate the life-long physical and mental health of the individual in numerous ways. Sleep is the simple term for a very complex biological process involving multiple neural circuits in the brain that are orchestrated by circadian rhythm activities within the biological clock pacemaker system for the body, primarily located in the hypothalamus.

The role of sleep in our overall health

One such mechanism by which sleep regulates health appears to be that the neurophysiological activity of sleep, regulated by the biological clock, in turn programs the biological clock system to operate “normally”. The import herein is that the biological clock regulates all the major activities of the body such as behavior, metabolism, reproduction, and immunity.

Sustained disruptions to normal input signals to the biological clock system (perceived as “stress” by this neural clock network system) by any means (e.g., sustained altered sleep patterns, biochemical or environmental manipulation) alter regulatory output signals from the clock system to the body that can lead to major biological disturbances throughout the body.

Indeed sleep alterations such as reduced sleep, extended sleep, sleep apnea, and altered sleep patterns associated with shift work have all been associated with serious cardiometabolic disease. Moreover, studies indicate that the duration of sleep as well as the quality of sleep are each important factors in regulating metabolic health.

Original Source:

An Overview of How Your Sleep and Biological Clock Affect Your Health

Read More

sleep and fatigue

Poor Quality Sleep and Fatigue – Medical Reasons Why You Always Feel Exhausted

Too exhausted to get out of bed to face the day? Most people blame it on insomnia and disrupted sleep, which may well be the case, but sleeplessness is just one of the many factors that turns you into a grumpy gnome at the thought of getting started each day.

Sleeplessness could be sign of stress, sleep apnea and/or depression, and persistent, relapsing fatigue after six to eight hours of sleep could indicate an undiagnosed disease, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), cancers, or congestive heart failure, among others.

Here may be one of the reasons why you feel tired throughout the day:

Mental stress

Emotional stress and frustration can leave you physically exhausted. Under stress, adrenalin peaks and raises heart rate and blood pressure, tenses muscles and makes breathing rapid and shallow. The hormone cortisol stimulates the release of energy, flooding the body with glucose, fatty acids and amino acids. Prolonged stress, however, forces the body to cope with this heightened state of physical stress, making it collapse as soon as your guard drops.


Air pollution, both outdoor and indoor, makes you lethargic, forgetful and lowers productivity. Apart from irritating the airways and lungs and causing asthma and lung diseases, PM10 (fine particle matter, dust, soot) and Ozone destroy red blood cells and lower the body’s oxygen-carrying capacity, starving the brain, muscles and organs of oxygen.

Among the indoor air pollutants that cause fatigue are secondhand smoke that tends to cling on linen, carpeting and upholstery, carbon monoxide that depletes oxygen levels in the body and starves muscles and vital organs of sustenance, and volatile organic compounds.


Fatigue is the most common symptom of anemia, which occurs when your body does not have enough hemoglobin – the iron-containing protein in red blood cells — to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Even mild anemia makes you tired, sluggish, forgetful and absentminded.


Fatigue is a major symptom of depressive disorders, with most people affected different degrees of lethargy, easy fatigability, and marked lack of energy. The lethargy is likely to be accompanied with feelings of low self worth, nervousness, sleeplessness, overeating or appetite loss and excessive worrying.

Chronic fatigue syndrome

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS), also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis, causes overwhelming, debilitating fatigue from unexplained causes. Suspected triggers include immune system gone awry, nutritional deficiencies, viral infection and metabolic abnormalities, but there is no agreement on the causes. Most people with CFS also have recurring headaches, muscles and joint pain and muscular weakness.

Original Source:

Poor Quality Sleep and Fatigue – Medical Reasons Why You Always Feel Exhausted

Read More

healthy sleep for adults

Healthy Sleep for Adults: Is Sleeping In Bad for You?

The latest disappointing news about sleeping in comes to us from the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, which published a study of over 400 participants who went to sleep and woke up later on the weekends than on workdays. Unfortunately, as reported in the New York Times, “sleeping late on days off was linked to lower HDL (good) cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher insulin resistance and higher body mass index” in the experimental participants — even after controlling for a variety of other health factors.

In other words, changes in sleep pattern really do seem to trash your metabolism and cardiovascular system, which are of course essential for good health. If that weren’t enough reason to stop sleeping in on its own, there are even more reasons to worry about.

Though further research is definitely required, studies now indicate that disrupted sleep patterns (like jet lag) impair memory and give you Alzheimer’s-like symptoms. It’s possible that sleep cycle problems precede and contribute to Alzheimer’s disease then, instead of being just a symptom of it. Though it’s totally worth it to risk a temporarily disrupted sleep cycle to, say, visit Europe, ordinary sleeping in probably isn’t pleasurable enough to risk an increased chance of Alzheimer’s by doing it every weekend.

Sleeping In Can Mask Your Seasonal Affective Disorder

Are you sleeping in for fun, or do you have genuinely disturbed energy levels? The latter can be a symptom of seasonal affective disorder, so you need to be honest with yourself every time you hit that snooze. There isn’t much to lose by attempting not to sleep in, because it’s bad for you in other ways too, and if you really can’t stop you might need to think about treating your seasonal affective disorder directly.

Does sleeping in even feel that good in the first place? Though the extra time you spend actually in bed might be great, if you experience a “sleep hangover” after sleeping in, you’re definitely not alone. When your body was expecting wake up, it prepared itself for a morning surge of energy, but you weren’t awake to experience it. So the ill effects of sleeping in can begin right away, not just far in the future.

Original Source:

Healthy Sleep for Adults: Is Sleeping In Bad for You?

Read More

methods to improve sleep

Reversing the Insufficient Sleep Epidemic – Methods to Improve Sleep

Millions of Americans miss out on critical hours of shuteye every day, and this epidemic of insufficient sleep holds critical implications for all of us.

While awareness of healthier sleep habits and the benefits of rest has been growing due to increased research and public health campaigns, trends still show many people of all ages simply aren’t sleeping enough.

Improving sleep at the personal level depends largely on education and attitude. Organizations like the CDC and National Sleep Foundation produce regular public awareness campaigns that aim to explain the benefits of getting healthy rest and discuss good “sleep hygiene” tips people can use in their daily lives.

The key tenets of good sleep hygiene include:

Following a healthy routine

Going to bed and wakingaround the same time every day, with little variation on weekends, is one of the best ways to support healthy circadian rhythms for people of any age. Consistency tells your body when to be alert and when to get drowsy. For people who work alternating shifts or experience jet lag that throws off routines, light cues may be important for moderating sleep-wake cycles (you generally want exposure to bright light while awake and darkness while sleeping).

Optimizing sleep environment

A comfortable bedroom can play a significant role in rest. Although personal preference is important, research shows that darkness is important for melatonin release and the cooler temperatures also support better sleep. Ensuring your mattress is in good shape and bedding is comfortable can reduce pain and discomfort. Minimizing disturbances from sounds in and outside the home may also be important for sound sleep.

Watching dietary sleep stealers

Many people know that stimulants like caffeine can delay sleep, but so too can alcohol, spicy foods, fatty foods, and heavy meals too close to bed. On the other hand, studies link eating a balanced diet with plenty of water during the day, and simple carbohydrates in the evening with fewer sleep issues.

Managing stress and pain

The 2015 Sleep in America poll showed that both stress and pain can significantly affect sleep, and the missing sleep exacerbates both stress and pain, creating a detrimental cycle. Developing healthy strategies to manage stress and minimize pain can help improve sleep, and better sleep can in turn support better health.

Getting help when needed

Many people with sleep disorders don’t seek treatment; for example, it’s estimated that 80% to 90% of sleep apnea cases are undiagnosed. If you have extended difficulty getting to bed or find that you aren’t feeling well rested in the morning, don’t ignore the signs — even if you suspect you know the cause. There are many tools your healthcare provider can utilize to improve your sleep, from behavioral and lifestyle adjustments to medications.

Making sleep a priority

People who make sleep a conscious priority also tend to get more rest, according the Sleep in America poll. Giving sleep a place in your routine and doing healthy things throughout the day, like getting moderate exercise, minimizing caffeine, and getting daily sunlight exposure, can all be helpful for sleeping easier at night.

To read the full article, visit:

Reversing the Insufficient Sleep Epidemic – Methods to Improve Sleep

Read More

sleep and teens

Sleep and Teens: 9 Hours of Sleep Can Be Healthier for Student-Athletes

The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended starting school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. for all middle and high school children. This is reinforced with similar endorsements by the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, American Thoracic Society and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We all know puberty is a time of great change physically and emotionally, but what many are not aware of is the simultaneous shift in our internal clock.

Teenagers of many animal species are programmed to go sleep later, but they still require more sleep — about nine hours per night. With the hectic schedules our society has created for teens, many of them cannot achieve this needed goal.

Effects of the amount of sleep on student-athletes

Regardless of their sport, athletes want to continuously improve their performance. More and more of our young athletes are training year-round for one sport, with many of them overlapping with other sports throughout the year. Top that off with work, academics and a social life, and there is not much time left for sleep.

But sleep is critical. In 2012, one study found teens sleeping at least eight hours per night had a 68 percent lower risk of being injured than those sleeping less than eight hours. This sleep deprivation correlates directly with athletes suffering overuse- and fatigue-related injuries (stress fractures, tendinopathies, myofascial pain).

Why is sleep important to an athlete? When we sleep, our bodies cycle through rapid-eye-movement and non-REM stages in order to allow memory repair and consolidation, rebalancing of hormones and recovery of tissue damage from normal use and injury, all of which are critical for normal growth, learning and health.

With sleep deprivation, our stress hormone (cortisol) is elevated, our restoration of glycogen (stored fuel) is decreased and the ability to metabolize glucose is diminished by 30 percent to 40 percent. This leads to less fuel for the brain, decreased immune function to fight off illness and a greater risk of obesity.

Living in this chronically fatigued state increases the athlete’s risk of injury and possibly evolves into overtraining syndrome, where the body just can’t physically perform to its capacity anymore.

Athletes develop new skills and abilities by pushing their bodies and minds beyond what they think they can do, let it recover and adapt to this new norm and then push it once again. This is how strength, endurance and accuracy improve.

Those with adequate sleep have been found to increase free-throw accuracy, faster sprint and reaction times and better mood. Those with inadequate sleep function with decreased focus, cognitive slowing, memory impairment, diminished attention and poor vigilance, all having a negative impact on performance.

It appears athletes can power through a single high-intensity test when tired, but without adequate sleep, they fatigue easily on submaximal, repeated efforts, which most sports require.

We all want to do what is right for our children. In this case, biology is telling us nine hours of sleep per night is what our teens need.

Shifting school start times likely will affect the timing of after-school activities. In regards to athletics, this can be done collaboratively among school districts and still allow the approximately 20 minutes required for pre-game warmups and completion of the game.

A healthier starting time at our middle and high schools will help the most important people in those schools: our teens.

Original Source:

Sleep and Teens: 9 Hours of Sleep Can Be Healthier for Student-Athletes


Read More