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Circadian Rhythms

Those working through the night or regularly falling victim to jet lag may be familiar with the physical toll of disrupting our biological clocks. Progress has been made in understanding how our bodies can better adjust to these disruptions, but scientists have now discovered a "reset button" that could lead to new possibilities for treatments to get our bodies back in sync. Read More
Our increasing understanding of circadian rhythms is changing how we think about the spaces we inhabit. Lighting, for example, can now be adjusted to alter mood and sleep patterns. A new building called The Photon Space, however, will take a more natural approach to help residents get in the (circadian) rhythm, being made almost entirely of glass. Read More
The human body clock is the curse of any shift worker or traveler arriving in a new time zone. Although one's body clock can be adjusted by external cues, such as light – a factor that devices such as the Re-Timer and Litebook are designed take advantage of – the adjustment period can vary significantly for different people. Now researchers have discovered the mechanism that controls how easily such adjustments can be made. Read More
It’s taken a few years, but the LED light glasses developed at Australia’s Flinders University that first attracted our attention back in 2003 are finally seeing a commercial launch. Now called Re-Timer, the wearable device emits a soft green light onto the eyes to reset the body’s internal clock to counter jet lag, improve the alertness of shift workers and make waking up in the morning easier. Read More
Scientists have long suspected that metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes and obesity, could be linked to our circadian rhythm or biological clock. For example, laboratory mice with altered biological clocks often become obese and develop diabetes. Now biologists at UC San Diego have discovered that a chemical, which affects the activity of a key protein that regulates our biological clock, can repress the production of glucose by the liver, offering a promising new direction for the development of a new class of drugs to treat diabetes. Read More
Circadian rhythms are a roughly 24-hour cycle governing biochemical, physiological, or behavioral processes that have been widely observed not only in humans, but other animals, fungi, cyanobacteria and plants. In plants, circadian rhythms help synchronize biological processes with day and night to control photosynthesis, tell the plant what season it is, and the best time to flower to attract insects. Yale University researchers have now identified a key genetic gear that keeps the circadian clock in plants ticking, offering the prospect of engineering plants that can grow all year round and in locations where that's is not currently possible. Read More
A group of Cambridge scientists have successfully identified the mechanism that drives our internal 24-hour clock, or circadian rhythm. It occurs not only in human cells, but has also been found in other life forms such as algae, and has been dated back millions of years. Whilst the research promises a better understanding of the problems associated with shift-work and jet-lag, this mechanism has also been proven to be responsible for sleep patterns, seasonal shifts and even the migration of butterflies. Read More
In bad news for regular jet-setters and shift workers, research by psychologists at the University of California, Berkeley, has shown that acute disruption of circadian rhythms can cause memory and learning problems long after people have returned to a regular schedule. While similar effects have been shown in jet-lagged subjects, the UC Berkeley study is the first to look at long-term effects and changes in brain anatomy after the subjects have recovered from jet lag. Read More
Designers Eoin McNally and Ian Walton have come up with the concept of a ‘Glo Pillow’ that uses an LED fabric substrate below the surface of the pillow to wake the user with light. Forty five minutes before the alarm is due to activate, the pillow begins to glow. The light intensity increases gradually from 0 lux to 250 lux, simulating a natural sunrise and helping to calibrate the body clock by waking the body naturally. The LED fabric substrate also functions as a display, showing the time on the pillows surface using a grid of LEDs inside the pillow. Read More
June 28, 2007 Waking at just the right moment can have a drastic effect on how well-rested a person feels, the trick is knowing exactly when that is. This is the principle behind the aXbo ‘sleep phase alarm clock’- a device that monitors phases of sleep and wakes the user at the optimum moment to maximize their feelings of well-being and vitality. Read More
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