HEALTHY LIVING
01/23/2014 08:24 am ET Updated Jan 23, 2014

Disrupted Sleep Schedule Affects Genes' Circadian Rhythms, Study Finds

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Here's more evidence disruptions to your typical sleep schedule can affect your body on a genetic level.

Researchers from the University of Surrey found that messing with the typical sleep cycle decreased the number of genes displaying a natural, 24-hour circadian rhythm by six times. This is important because genes' circadian rhythms are vital to the smooth running of biological processes.

"Over 97 percent of rhythmic genes become out of sync with mistimed sleep and this really explains why we feel so bad during jet lag, or if we have to work irregular shifts," study researcher Dr. Simon Archer said in a statement.

The study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, involved toying with the sleep-wake cycle of 22 participants by putting them on a 28-hour day. By being on this sort of schedule, the participants' sleep-wake cycle experienced a delay of four hours for each day; the researchers had them continue on with this sleep-wake schedule until their sleep was 12 hours off from what it should have been. Researchers took blood samples from the participants in order to monitor circadian rhythms of the genes.

This isn't the first time sleep has been shown to affect our genes. A study conducted last year by U.K. researchers showed that a week's worth of insufficient sleep led to changes to more than 700 genes, though scientists said they weren't completely sure of the exact role of each of the genes.

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