The term "biological clock" often connotes the ideal age by which a woman should have children, but it can also be used to describe something just as important: the way your body keeps time, otherwise known as the circadian rhythm.
On Monday, U.S. scientists Jeffrey Hall, Michael Rosbash and Michael Young won the Nobel Prize for medicine for finding out what controls our body clocks.
According to CNN, their research examined how our biological rhythm adjusts throughout the day to link up with the planet's day and night cycle.
The circadian rhythm, according to the National Sleep Foundation, is the 24-hour internal clock that runs while you're sleeping and/or awake. When your circadian rhythm is thrown off, you can experience jet lag. But in addition to regulating your sleep cycle, it also helps regulate eating habits, hormone release, blood pressure, and body temperature.
Hall, Rosbash, and Young conducted research on fruit flies to uncover a gene that controls your everyday internal clock, finding that the gene actually has a protein embedded that accumulates in your cells at night and degrades during the day. In short, that gene plays a part in why you get jet lag, and why light has such a big effect on your sleep.
This may sound like nothing new, but their research has led to a greater understanding of a pretty complex system in our bodies, and it's responsible for the advances in a lot of the sleep studies you read on your morning news sweep.
"These investigators were the first to discover a gene that controlled circadian behavior," David Ray, a professor of medicine and endocrinology at the University of Manchester, told CNN. "It had been recognized for some time that animals and plants not only respond to changes in light as we move from day to night with the Earth's rotation, but that they anticipate such changes."
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