Blue genes

January 23, 2014

Why working all-nighters can damage your ‘genetic rhythms’

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Working those all-nighters isn’t just bad for your caffeine intake, the lines under your eyes and your romantic life, scientists have revealed.

It’s also bad news for many of your genes, which have their rhythms disrupted when you’re not in bed on time.

Research from the University of Surrey’s Clinical Research Centre tested the rhythms of the gene expression (us neither) of 22 participants, who delayed their sleep-wake cycle by four hours each day until they were sleeping during the middle of the day.

Apparently, a number of genes display a circadian rhythm – ‘the clock that regulates the daily cycles of our bodies as we transition from day to night and wakefulness to sleep’ – which are broken when you don’t get shut-eye at the right time. This tends to result in ‘widespread disruption to many biological processes.’

The research is also of interest because it suggests which genes might be regulated by sleep-wake cycles, and which by central body clocks.

Don’t say: ‘I was up all night working with Paula/Paul, and s/he really got into my genes.’

Do say: ‘As Ian Dury said, ‘Hit me With Your Arrythmia Stick’. Let’s get to work.’ AB

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