Nothing is more exasperating than the rattle created by the alarm clock in the morning, the dilemma is even more aggravating for those night owls, going to bed around 2 or 3 a.m. Waking up and tending to the days routine when you haven’t had your share of the night rest, can make one quite irritable.
But what if I were to tell you that you can control the sleep timings, when to sleep and when to wake up, like you had this mysterious control over your brain clock. You would probably won’t believe me, but scientists have finally really found a Reset button to these body clocks!
Canadian scientists have discovered the molecular switch that resets and synchronizes our internal body clock, and targeting it could help treat a range of disorders, such as insomnia, depression and obesity, that are triggered when our sleep patterns get disrupted, or when we’re exposed to light when we shouldn’t; checking out the phone at 1 a.m.
Each one of us has a different sleep schedule which is controlled by the circadian rhythms (a biological activity regulated by body temperature, sleep cycle, hormone secretion and several external factors like light intensity). The body clock is located in suprachiasmatic nuclei (SCN) of hypothalamus in the brain.
“The ‘master’ circadian clock in the SCN receives light information from the retina in the eye, which sends the information to several parts of the brain, including the pineal gland, responsible for the release of melatonin,” says Rochelle Zozula, PhD, coordinator at Capital Health’s Center for Sleep Medicine in Hamilton, N.J. “Light will suppress the production of melatonin, which is directly involved in the process of sleep initiation.”
Therefore the scientists carried out a series of experiments on mice, mutating it with eIF4E protein thereby phosphorylating the brain. Then they studied the activity levels of the mice, controlled by their body clocks, by adjusting the artificial light in lab with cycles of 10.5-hour shifts of light and dark.
Humans and mice have a tendency to adapt quickly to the new sleep rhythm, due to the inbuilt reset button. But with the phosphorylation of the protein, the button got blocked, and the mice were jet-lagged in their old routine.
They then investigated the pathway further, and found that phosphorylation of eIF4E increased the production of Period proteins, important proteins that are known to play a role in synchronizing the body’s circadian clock.
This amazing behavior shows that one can easily control and manipulate the whole sleeping set up. There are a couple of ways to do it, through exercise and internal melatonin production has an effect as well, but nothing is as effective as the light treatment. Exposing your retinas to light at the right time will definitely set the clock right.
Try to take in some bright sunlight early in the morning for a few days at the time you want to be awake, and avoid light in the evening, making sure you are in a dark environment by bedtime. That would do the trick!
“Full spectrum lighting is probably optimal in terms of the management of all these clockwork hormones that direct the complex physiology we have,” Dr. Richard Rosen, director of retina services at New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai and ophthalmology research director at the Icahn School of Medicine, told Business Insider. Even wearing sunglasses when you are trying to get your body into “ready for bed” mode has been shown to work. (source: Business Insider).
Now that you know the trick, say good bye to your cranky alarm clocks and get the sleep your body needs.