Our bodies can determine best times to eat, sleep, and exercise, based on time of day

July 01, 2022

All vertebrates – or mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish – have biological clocks, as do plants, fungi and bacteria

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Image of a man sleeping next to his laptop. — Pixabay/Muntazar Mansory

Researchers are trying to understand and learn more about the “biological clock” in our brains which can determine when it's time to sleep, eat, and exercise.

There are approximately 20,000 neurons near the centre of the brain which control our bodies’ unconscious functions like breathing. This “clock” is affected psychologically through environmental cues like light and food.

“Humans aren’t the only beings that have an internal clock system,” wrote Shogo Sato, Assistant Professor of Biology, Texas A&M University, in an article, as reported by The Conversation.

All vertebrates – or mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish – have biological clocks, as do plants, fungi and bacteria.

For example, the human body regulates sleep-wake cycles by releasing certain hormones throughout the day. Melatonin, for one, is a hormone that helps regulate sleep in response to darkness but our sleep cycle can be disrupted by the artificial blue light from our technology. That’s why doctors advise reducing screen time at night.

Another such example is the way our body is affected during exercise depending on the time of day.

Researchers studied mice bodies that exercised either before breakfast or after dinner in the late evening. They found how exercise affects every part of the body differently throughout the day. For example, morning exercise reduced blood glucose levels more so than the evening whereas evening exercise increased endurance.

The biological clock is a wondrous part of the human body that researchers like Sato are interested in continuing to explore and share their findings with the world.


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