Our inner clocks affect mental and physical health

By Casey Frye, CCNN Writer

internal clock
Daylight saving time on March 9 pushes the clocks forward an hour, and your body will need time to readjust.

The human body has natural internal clocks that influence everything from our physical health to our behavior. These “circadian rhythms” respond to light by telling our body it’s time to be awake, or perceive darkness and make us sleepy for bedtime. However, if we disrupt that cycle by either using bright electronics at night (which trick our brains into thinking it’s daytime) or sleeping at irregular times, it can cause exhaustion, bad moods, and a lack of mental focus.

For decades now, the National Institutes of Health organization in the USA has studied our inner clocks to better understand human health. If mankind can figure out how to control its inner timekeepers, then medical professionals and military soldiers who need to stay focused for long periods of time may be able to cheat the system. For example, the cells responsible for keeping track of biological time can be manipulated in mice to make their bodies adjust to an 8-hour time change twice as fast. Other studies focus on how the brain and body coordinate time changes and if there’s internal snooze buttons that can temporarily change the body’s ability to rest.

Featured image courtesy of Joana Coccarelli on Flickr. Image of clock man courtesy of Sean MacEntee on Flickr.