Washington State University researchers are learning more in studies about links between health and the body’s internal biological clock.
A WSU College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences group found in recent research using mice that the biological clock under normal patterns likely plays a role in protecting the heart during radiation treatment.
But a healthy biological clock is important overall as a mechanism affecting the body’s processes and regulating up to 50% of genes. So researchers say keeping that clock in tune affects human health whether you’re fit or fighting a disease.
There are different reasons a biological clock might be disrupted, perhaps longtime shift work or frequent late nights in front of a computer, said Shobhan Gaddameedhi and Panshak Dakup, part of the pharmacy study group. Here are steps to consider:
Try to get exposure to sunlight outdoors or near a window during the day. On overcast wintery days, consider short sessions in early awake times sitting near a lamp designed to simulate sunlight.
Stay active during the day as part of the 24-hour cycle leading up to rest. That activity includes being in motion, social activity and work chores, all which help you feel tired later in the day.
Don’t force repeated late nights or nighttime exposure to electronic devices. If you need to check your smartphone before bed, put it in a night mode to protect against blue light emitted by the device. “Blue light is closest to what sunlight is,” Gaddameedhi said.
Repeated exposure to artificial light at night is thought to suppress the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms – the physical, mental and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle.
Avoid turning on bright lights after bedtime even if you can’t fall asleep, and stay in a quiet, darkened bedroom without a television playing or other noises. Try to relax until you feel drowsy. Your eyes are less sensitive to some kinds of bulbs, such as yellow ones, Gaddameedhi added.
Gaddameedhi is from a region of India where the sun shines on most days. During winters here, he often uses a bright light designed for seasonal depression for about 10 minutes during the morning each day.
“If you’re just sitting with bright light during breakfast time, and then you’re active during daytime, that’s important,” he said.
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