The fruit fly and the circadian rhythm

The fruit fly and the circadian rhythm

Drosophila melanogaster, the fruit fly, the guinea pig of genetics for over a century has yet again proven useful. The Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine has gone to three American molecular biologists who have used fruit flies since the 1970’s in their work on the circadian rhythm, otherwise known as our body clock.

Our circadian rhythm tracks the rotation of the Earth, tells us when to go to sleep and when to wake up, it prepares us for the routine bodily tasks that we perform throughout our day and night. It also prepares us for the challenges that we may face day to day.

The rhythm ensures that we are fully alert in the mid-morning, which is rather useful whether you are a hunter-gatherer or leading a meeting on an important topic.

The circadian rhythm also influences how our bodies function both physically and mentally. Disturbances in sleep or not going to sleep at a suitable time can really cause our bodies to take a knock, so what can we do to prevent this?

  • How much sleep do I need? – According to the Sleep Council 18-65 year olds need between 7-9 hours
  • Avoid technology – Don’t try and turn on the TV or look at your phone when you can’t sleep – having access to these devices will increase your urge to switch them on and can lead to more disturbed sleep
  • Hot or cold – Temperature is key, if you’re too hot you will struggle, try and keep your room temperature to around 16-18° C (60-65° F)

If your team would benefit from more information on the importance of the circadian rhythm and how they can optimise their sleep, then get in touch on 01924 666 295.