Circadian Rhythms and Sleep Disorders

Circadian rhythms are 24-hour cycles that control certain mental and physical functions within the body. They can be described as what we perceive as daily habits and can include the times we eat, digest food, sleep, and more. Circadian rhythms are affected by certain cues. These cues can include light, exercise, social activity, temperature, eating, and the list goes on.

Everyone has a ‘master clock’ that is located in their brain. This master clock regulates all of the biological clocks in the body. In turn, the biological clocks regulate the circadian rhythms. The most well-known circadian rhythm is that of the sleep-wake cycle.

Circadian Rhythm Gene Expression

Clock genes control circadian rhythms, and were one of the first genes that were found to affect behaviour in humans. A link has been made between circadian rhythms and sleep disorders. Specifically, a mutation within an individual’s circadian clock has been linked to circadian rhythm sleep-wake disorder. This is the disorder that causes the individual to have difficulty falling asleep (insomnia), difficulty in waking from a sleep cycle. It may also cause the person to wake up earlier than they should, and not be able to fall asleep again.

Which Genes Are Associated with Circadian Behaviours?

Specific genes have been identified that are associated with circadian behaviours. More specifically, the circadian behaviours linked to being an early riser or ‘night owl’. The clock genes involved with this natural sleeping cycle include PER1, CRY1 and BMAL1.

There is still a large amount of research that needs to be conducted in order to fully understand circadian rhythms and their genetic markers, variations, and expressions; however, we do know that circadian rhythms can affect your sleep, metabolism, and even your immune system.

There are at-home genetic tests available that can give more insight into an individual’s circadian rhythms. At Geneway, our genetic circadian rhythm tests focus on sleep disorders. By testing for this genetic variation, one can devise a plan that can help manage a sleep disorder and live a full, productive, and energised life. Contact us at Geneway to find out more about circadian rhythms and how they can affect your sleep and health as a whole.

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