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Time rules life (2/27/12)

February 27, 2012

Time Rules Life

The Romans knew it two thousand years ago – everything in life is timed.  Your body is a hive of interlinked clocks.   Some operate over less than a second, others work over seasons or years.

Yet the most studied internal clocks are those that control our 24 hour day.  Called circadian – for circa dia, Latin for around a day, they let our body time everything to the cycle of night and day, light and darkness.

Including everything we do biologically and physiologically – including how we regenerate ourselves.

It’s long been hypothesized that many changes of aging are induced by changes in our clocks, and their overall effectiveness. The prime time setter for our bodies and their clocks is light – particularly sunlight.

Could our circadian clocks become poorly set by the eyes’ aging lens?

That’s exactly what recent research argues: change the lens and you also change your inner time.

Aging and Regeneration

Without a timing mechanism you don’t get things to work right.

Recent work at the University of Kansas, discussed in the New York Times and elsewhere, shows that the eye’s ability to respond to blue light changes with age.

A lot.

Data are that a ten year old has 10 times the photosensitivity of a 95 year old. There is lots of evidence now that blue light especially makes us more alert, more aware, more productive – even when people are unconscious of how much blue light they’re getting.

And when the lens grows older it gets more yellow.  That cuts out much of incoming blue light.

The decreases are so severe that short bursts of light that make young people more alert – and stop their melatonin production, the hormone of darkness – have no effect at all on middle aged folk.

How is it that your two eye lenses change so much?

Unlike most of your body that remakes and redoes itself within weeks, the lens you get is the one you were born with.  The lens lasts as long as we do – or until a cataract operation replaces it with something new and clear.  (You can gauge that by looking at infants’ eyes.  They look big – because they don’t grow with age, like almost all the rest of our body.)

And now the evidence is that once that happens, older folk have less insomnia.  Less depression. More alertness.

Al because their clocks are better timed.

Infection, Immunity, Sudden Death and Cancer

Screw up animal’s circadian rhythms and they get sick.  The same is true of people.

Folks who do shift work – about a quarter of the working population –experience higher rates of heart attack, stroke, depression, GI disturbances, and some tumors.

Now some of the reasons are coming out.

It was known for a long time that morning is the peak time for sudden death.  Monday morning is particularly lethal, as people blow out their body clocks over the weekend, going to bed late and getting up late.

Till Sunday comes.

Now recent work shows a particular protein, which changes heart rhythms, follows the same rhythm as does sudden death incidence in people.

It’s also been known that many infections – including serious ones like sepsis – are more prone to occur in the late hours of the night.

And yet another protein, named TRL 9, follows the same pattern of activation/infection.  Give immune vaccinations when TRL9 peaks – at least in animals – and sepsis markedly declines.

Similarly, many tumors grow up faster in the night.  Oncologists in France and Britain have shown much better responses when the tumors are hit when they’re growing fastest.

Time your drugs accurately and they work better. Statins are virtually useless at decreasing cholesterol unless given at night.

Because night is when we make the cholesterols that flow through our blood and line our cells.

Bottom Line

Everything follows a pattern in time.  Run your life according to a schedule that fits your body’s rhythms and things work better.

Light is an impressive drug.  It can treat depression, change immunity, potently reset our clocks.

And the power of light declines with age.  So we need more light.

Older folks should get more sunlight on their eyes – especially in the morning – to reset their clocks.

There really is a reason to live in the Sunbelt.
Rest, sleep, Sarasota Sleep Doctor, well-being, regeneration, longevity, body clocks, insomnia, sleep disorders, the rest doctor, matthew edlund, the power of rest, the body clock, psychology today, huffington post, redbook, longboat key news

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