Putting Sleep Disorders to Bed: New Way to Improve Internal Clock Function

Overnight flights across the Atlantic, graveyard shifts, stress-induced insomnia are all prime culprits in keeping us from getting a good night’s sleep. Thanks to new research from McGill University and Concordia University, however, these common sleep disturbances may one day be put to bed.

The rotation of Earth generates day and night. It also confers daily rhythms to all living beings. In mammals, something known as a “circadian clock” in the brain drives daily rhythms in sleep and wakefulness, feeding and metabolism, and many other essential processes. But the inner workings of this brain clock are complex, and the molecular processes behind it have eluded scientists — until now.

In a new study published in Neuron, researchers have identified how a fundamental biological process called protein synthesis is controlled within the body’s circadian clock — the internal mechanism that controls one’s daily rhythms. Their findings may help shed light on future treatments for disorders triggered by circadian clock dysfunction, including jet lag, shift work disorders, and chronic conditions like depression and Parkinson’s disease.

“To understand and treat the causes and symptoms of circadian abnormalities, we have to take a closer look at the fundamental biological mechanisms that control our internal clocks,” says study co-author Dr. Shimon Amir, professor in Concordia University’s Department of Psychology.

Full story of improving the internal clock at Science Daily

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