If you struggle to wake up in time for school or work or feel drowsy during a trip abroad, your circadian rhythms may be out of sync with your environment. Circadian rhythms are your internal timekeepers, and almost all organisms, from bacteria to plants and animals, have them. You can’t see them, but you can feel their effects—they control when you get sleepy, when you wake up in the morning, and when you feel hungry. Among other signals, the brain uses sunlight to keep time.Continue reading “Why Am I So Tired?”
Tag: Biological Clocks
NIGMS, in collaboration with Scholastic, has developed a collection of free biology and health activities on the educational app Kahoot! You can play them alone, with friends, or with a class of students. Four Kahoots! are currently available:
- Imaging the Microscopic World investigates how researchers view cells, proteins, and other tiny structures.
- Superbugs delves into infectious bacteria and viruses that can’t be fought off with medicines.
- The Science of Sleep explores biological clocks and circadian rhythms.
- Regeneration highlights how animals replace or restore damaged or missing cells, tissues, organs, and even entire body parts.
Sudden changes to our schedules, like the end of daylight saving time this Sunday or flying across time zones, often leave us feeling off kilter because they disrupt our bodies’ circadian rhythms. Circadian rhythms are physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle. When these “biological clocks” are disrupted, our bodies eventually readjust. However, some people have conditions that cause their circadian rhythms to be permanently out of sync with their surroundings.Continue reading “Scientist Interview: Investigating Circadian Rhythms With Michael W. Young”
If you’re looking for ways to engage students in science this school year, NIGMS offers a range of free resources that can help. All of our STEM materials are online and print-friendly, making them easy to use for remote teaching.
Pathways , developed in collaboration with Scholastic, is aligned with STEM and ELA education standards for grades 6 through 12. Materials include:
- Student magazines with corresponding teaching guides
- Related lessons with interactives
- Vocabulary lists
Available lessons examine basic science careers, regeneration, and circadian rhythms.Continue reading “Explore Our STEM Education Resources for the New School Year”
If you’re looking for engaging ways to teach science from home, NIGMS offers a range of resources that can help.
Our Science Education and Partnership Award (SEPA) webpage features free, easy-to-access STEM and informal science education projects for pre-K through grade 12. Aligned with state and national standards for STEM teaching and learning, the program has tools such as:
- Online books
- Curricula and lesson plans
- Short movies
Students can learn about sleep, cells, growth, microbes, a healthy lifestyle, genetics, and many other subjects.Continue reading “Explore Our Virtual Learning STEM Resources”
NIGMS and Scholastic, Inc., bring you the third edition of Pathways, a collection of free resources that teaches students about basic science and its importance to health, and exciting research careers.
Pathways is designed for grades 6 through 12. The topic of this unit is circadian rhythms, the “schedules” our bodies follow over the course of a day. These rhythms influence processes like hunger and the sleep-wake cycle.Continue reading “Pathways: The Circadian Rhythms Issue”
Feeling sleepy and dazed after the switch to daylight savings time this weekend? Your internal clocks are probably a little off and need some time to adjust.
Researchers have been studying biological clocks for decades to figure out how they control circadian rhythms, the natural 24-hour pattern of physical, mental and behavioral changes that affect sleep, appetite and metabolism. Knowing more about what makes our clocks tick could help researchers develop better therapies for sleep problems, metabolic conditions and other disorders associated with mistimed internal clocks. Continue reading “Cool Image: A Circadian Circuit”
When daylight savings time ends this Sunday, we’ll need to adjust every clock in our homes, cars and offices. Our internal clocks will need to adjust too.
The body has a master clock in the brain, as well as others in nearly every tissue and organ. These biological clocks drive circadian rhythms, the physical, mental and behavioral changes we experience on a roughly 24-hour cycle. Your hunger in the morning and sleepiness at night, for example, are caused partly by clock gears in motion. These gears can get out of synch with the day-night cycle when the time changes or when we travel through time zones.
Has the “spring forward” time change left you feeling drowsy? While researchers can’t give you back your lost ZZZs, they are unraveling a long-standing mystery about sleep. Their work will advance the scientific understanding of the process and could improve ways to foster natural sleep patterns in people with sleep disorders.
Working at Massachusetts General Hospital and MIT, Christa Van Dort, Matthew Wilson, and Emery Brown focused on the stage of sleep known as REM. Our most vivid dreams occur during this period, as do rapid eye movements, for which the state is named. Many scientists also believe REM is crucial for learning and memory.
REM occurs several times throughout the night, interspersed with other sleep states collectively called non-REM sleep. Although REM is clearly necessary—it occurs in all land mammals and birds—researchers don’t really know why. They also don’t understand how the brain turns REM on and off.Continue reading “Scientists Shine Light on What Triggers REM Sleep”
After you roll your clocks back by an hour this Sunday, you may feel tired. That’s because our bodies—more specifically, our circadian rhythms—need a little time to adjust. These daily cycles are run by a network of tiny, coordinated biological clocks.
NIGMS’ Mike Sesma tracks circadian rhythm research being conducted in labs across the country, and he shares a few timely details about our internal clocks:
1. They’re incredibly intricate.
Biological clocks are composed of genes and proteins that operate in a feedback loop. Clock genes contain instructions for making clock proteins, whose levels rise and fall in a regular cyclic pattern. This pattern in turn regulates the activity of the genes. Many of the results from circadian rhythm research this year have uncovered more parts of the molecular machinery that fine-tune the clock. Earlier in the month, we blogged about an RNA molecule that cues the internal clock.
2. Every organism has them—from algae to zebras.
Many of the clock genes and proteins are similar across species, allowing researchers to make important findings about human circadian processes by studying the clock components of organisms like fruit flies, bread mold and plants.
3. Whether we’re awake or asleep, our clocks keep ticking.
While they might get temporarily thrown off by changes in light or temperature, our clocks usually can reset themselves.
4. Nearly everything about how our body works is tied to biological clocks.
Our clocks influence alertness, hunger, metabolism, fertility, mood and other physiological conditions. For this reason, clock dysfunction is associated with various disorders, including insomnia, diabetes and depression. Even drug efficacy has been linked to our clocks: Studies have shown that some drugs might be more effective if given earlier in the day.
Circadian Rhythms Fact Sheet