Our cellular energy ebbs and flows according to our circadian rhythms, according to research

To ensure that you stay healthy, you know you have to rest. Now, a study has revealed WHY we need to get enough sleep at night.

According to researchers from the University of Basel“[cellular] energy metabolism also follows the rhythm of the circadian clock.” The study has explored exactly how this works by explaining the link between the circadian rhythm and the mitochondrial network for the first time.

There are various genetically controlled clocks inside different parts of our bodies, like our heart, kidneys, and liver. These clocks have all sorts of functions, one of which is triggering many metabolic processes to that these happen at the optimal time of day.

Mitochondria are small organelles that can be found in almost all our cells. Mitochondria also supply them with energy, and they are crucial in these cellular processes. Before this study, it was unknown how the 24-hour circadian rhythm controlled energy metabolism.

For the majority of the cells, mitochondria are linked to an ever-changing network that can adapt to different conditions. This means mitochondria can combine and then divide again. This also means that interruptions of this fission-fusion dynamic may cause health problems.

For the study, researchers have examined how the mitochondrial network interacts with the human internal biological clock through combined in vitro models and clock-deficient mice, or mice with deficient mitochondrial fission. (Related: Don’t get injured at night… Researchers discover cell repair driven by circadian rhythm; wounds heal 60% faster during the day.)

Based on the results, the mitochondrial fission-fusion cycle is regulated by the fission protein Drp1. This is then synchronized by an internal biological clock. This rhythm is significant when it comes to deciding when and how much energy the mitochondria can supply.

Professor Anne Eckert, the study leader from the University of Basel’s Transfaculty Research Platform Molecular and Cognitive Neurosciences MCN, said that the time of day helps determine the design of the mitochondrial network. This also affects the cells’ energy capacity.

The scientists also explained that the mitochondrial network is unable to maintain this rhythm once the circadian clock is impaired. The loss of this rhythm results in a decline in cell energy production.

In the same vein, pharmacologically or genetically impairing the Drp1 fission protein disrupts the energy production rhythm, which also influences the rhythm of the circadian clock.

The researchers noted that the findings from this study could be used to develop new therapeutic approaches that could be used on diseases which are characterized by a disrupted circadian clock and jeopardized mitochondrial function, such as Alzheimer’s disease.

The study was published in the journal Cell Metabolism; researchers were from University of Basel, University of Zurich, and University Psychiatric Clinics Basel.

Tips to help you sleep better

If you wish to sleep better at night, try some of the tips below:

  • Exercise early – If you need help falling asleep at night, try exercising. Just make sure you’re done working out three hours before your bedtime.
  • Follow a soothing pre-sleep routine – Doing relaxing activities an hour or so before bed can help you sleep better. Take a bath or read a book. However, you must skip stressful and stimulating activities. If you’re the type to worry about errands or work before you go to bed, write them down and then set them aside for the next day.
  • Keep your bedroom cool, dark, and quiet – Use some heavy curtains or blackout shades in your room to keep it dark, or you can wear an eye mask. Try some earplugs to keep noise to a minimum, and keep the temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit. You can easily fall asleep in a well-ventilated room, especially if you have a comfortable mattress and pillows.
  • Skip the caffeine, alcohol, and nicotine – While coffee can help you stay awake, excessive caffeine may keep you up at night. If you really need a cup of joe, try to drink it at least four to six hours before bedtime. Limit your alcohol intake to about one or two drinks daily, which must be consumed at least four hours before bedtime.
  • Sleep when you’re tired – Don’t force yourself to sleep. If it takes you longer than 20 minutes to fall asleep, go to another room and do something relaxing like reading or listening to soothing music until you feel tired enough for some shut-eye.

You can learn more about the circadian rhythm and how it affects the human body at Scientific.news.

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