When do you regenerate your body? All the time, but at different rates. Time rules life, and body clocks rule the inner time of your body.
Why? Night and day are built in design elements for virtually every creature on earth. Through their effect on gene expression, 24 hour clocks help rule the roost. Everything you do is influenced by your 24 hour clocks, which explains why Three Mile Island and Chernobyl happened in the early morning and more world sports records are set in the early evening.
It’s all in your genes. And now we can watch it on video.
Animal Brain – the Movie
It’s hard to look inside a human brain. Lots of folks are less than excited about getting their head biopsied. To know more, scientists often look beyond humans.
Emmanuel Mignot’s group at Stanford has been trying to figure out narcolepsy, the genetic disease where people fall asleep suddenly, often suddenly dropping in REM, complex dream sleep. Working first with a group of narcoleptic dogs who fell asleep to crashing cymbals, they found that narcolepsy was caused by not having enough functional hypocretin, a neurotransmitter than helps control wakefulness and food (people really should not be surprised that sleep loss equals weight gain.) When you look at what hypocretin does, you often find other interesting facts.
Mignot’s group has been looking at zebrafish. Yes, you’ve seen them in your friend’s aquarium. They’re cute.
And their larvae are transparent. You can just look inside their brains.
Mignot’s group has been looking inside.
What You See is What You Get
Interested as always in hypocretin neurons, Mignot’s group was able to track the changes in those neurons through the 24 hour day.
And those hypocretin secreting nerve cells sure had rhythm. Synapses, the business ends of nerve cells where the critical action of firing and not firing takes place, changed cyclically throughout the 24 hour day. Often there were less at night.
Now you’re on; now you’re off. Sometimes synapses close down, while at other times they turn back up. All following the 24 hour clock.
Watching Brains in Real Time
What this means is that much brain regeneration works like a clock. In humans this means that lots of information is processed at night, then gisted, summarized and the residue dumped – probably much at night as it is a zebrafish.
But in a zebrafish you can watch the connections being made. And lost. Up and down like a clock.
Since time rules life, you want to use those clocks to your advantage. You want to rest at night and be physically active during the day. Physical activity leads to more brain cell growth. You grow new brain cells at night, during sleep.
Lots of rebuilding and remaking goes on while you sleep. New synaptic connections are made. Others die. Physical activity increases the activity of all kinds of chemicals that make the whole process more active and regenerative.
It’s nice to grow your brain at night, adding in the information gained during the previous day. Learning never stops until you stop. Critically, what you do is what you become.
That’s regeneration. The process is vast and fast. It keeps you alive – and if you do it right, can let most of us stay healthy a long time.
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