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  • Springhill Medical Group:How can Not Sleeping Affect your Health

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    One night without sleep can make you feeling tired the whole day and yawning will probably annoy you and the people around. How about two nights of no sleeping or three? It will surely make you cranky and restless. But just a week of not enough sleep can radically change the activity of human genes.

    According to a new study published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, just one week of abnormal, insufficient sleep is enough to dramatically alter the activity of human genes.

    University of Surrey in England conducted a survey and the experiment discovered that lack of sleep, at least less than six hours a night will affect the activity of over 700 of our genes.

    The genes that will be affected are associated with controlling response to stress, immunity, and inflammation.

    Furthermore, the research demonstrates that insufficient sleep reduces the number of genes that normally peak and fall in expression during a 24-hour period from 1,855 to 1,481.

    After a week of pitiable sleep the number of genes influenced by sleep deprivation is seven times greater.

    Obesity, cognitive impairment, heart disease are just few of the complications of not having enough sleep.

    According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, USA, sleep deprivation and sleep disorders affect from 50 to 70 million people in America thus making sleep disorders very common. But until recently, scientists were unaware how gene expression patterns were modified by poor sleep. These ‘gene expression’ patterns offer critical clues on the possible molecular mechanisms that connect sleep with total health.

    26 volunteers were followed; they were exposed to a week of sleep deprivation and a week of sufficient sleep. Each week, blood samples were collected and were controlled for the effects of light, activity, and food during the week of insufficient sleep.

    The genes affected by poor sleep were linked to circadian rhythms, metabolism, and sleep homeostasis.

    Macromolecular metabolism, gene-expression regulation, chromatin modification, inflammatory responses, immune responses, stress responses, these are the biological processes that the investigators found as being affected.

    “This research has helped us to understand the effects of insufficient sleep on gene expression. Now that we have identified these effects we can use this information to further investigate the links between gene expression and overall health.” says Derk-Jan Dijk, Director of the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey.

    This study was made possible by a team up of researchers completed by sleep and circadian rhythm experts in functional bioinformatics and genomics, and physiologists.

    The biological processes recognized may be involved with the negative results of poor sleep on health and stress the links between sleep homeostasis, circadian rhythmicity, and metabolism.

    “The current interest in sleep and circadian rhythms as determinants of health and disease is a vital area of research. By combining our expertise in sleep and ‘genomics’ (the study of the full complement of our genes), we are starting to make breakthroughs that will have an impact on our understanding and treatment of poor health arising from insufficient sleep.” says Colin Smith, Professor of functional genomics at the University of Surrey.

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