Here’s How One Sleepless Night Can Mess You Up

Here’s How One Sleepless Night Can Mess You Up

By Metro UK on July 26, 2015
night life stress woman sleeping sleep
Photo Credit: Dreamstime

Think the odd all-nighter is harmless? Think again.

Researchers at Uppsala University and the Karolinska Institute in Sweden have found that just one sleepless night can alter the genes that control the biological clocks in your cells.

The paper, which was published in Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, saw researchers study 15 normal-weight men for two nights, on two separate occasions. Whilst they were allowed to sleep normally on one of the nights, they were made to stay awake on the other, under strict lab conditions.

In their conclusion to the study, the team observed: ‘Our findings demonstrate that a single night of wakefulness can alter the epigenetic and transcriptional profile of core circadian clock genes in key metabolic tissues.’

Talking about the real life impact of what they’d observed, the team explained: ‘Tissue-specific clock alterations could explain why shift work may disrupt metabolic integrity as observed herein.’

Dr. Jonathan Cedernaes explained that what surprised them most was the speed of the changes, saying: ‘It was interesting that the methylation of these genes could be altered so quickly, and that it could occur for these metabolically important clock genes.’

However, researchers admitted that at this stage they don’t know how long these changes last, saying: ‘It could be that these changes are reset after one or several nights of good sleep. On the other hand, epigenetic marks are suggested to be able to function a sort of metabolic memory, and have been found to be altered in e.g. shift workers and people suffering from type 2 diabetes.’

Still, this study once again highlights the importance of sleep. Something we could all do with keeping in mind.

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