Altered sleep cycles are never easy to endure, and now it has been proven that they are also not good for us either. Disrupted sleep cycles often associated with jet lag and shift work have profound effects on the human body, according to a new study, which found that genes expressed themselves differently when subjects sleep cycles were altered.
Researchers at the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey in the U.K. found that study subjects who were put on a 28-hour sleep cycle expressed far fewer genes than when they were on their normal 24-hour cycle per CTV News.22 volunteers had their sleep patterns extended by four hours each day so that by the need of three days they were sleeping during the day, for the study. Regular blood tests revealed “a massive impact” on gene expression over the days the subjects’ sleep cycles were extended to 28 hours, study co-author Simon Archer said in a statement.
As the study progressed, researchers found that nearly 6.5 percent of the subjects’ genes followed a 24-hour circadian expression, a finding consistent with other research. But after the three 28-hour days, only one percent of the subjects’ genes remained on the 24-hour rhythm.
“That’s quite a reduction,” Derk-Jan Dijk, a sleep physiologist at Surrey, said in a statement.
Per Dijik, a number of the body’s normal rhythms “have a reduced amplitude in general when you’re not sleeping at the right time of day.”
The researchers discovered that genes that normally express themselves during the day and those that normally express themselves at night were affected during the study.
What is still unclear, according to Dijik, is how exactly the changes in sleep timing lead to changes in gene expression. A key limitation to the study is whether it would have yielded the same results if the researchers had changed the subjects’ sleep cycles over a different time frame.
Having an altered sleep cycles may be necessary for certain jobs, but it is important to pay attention to your health as well.