Human beings are genetically programmed to be diurnal. We are therefore physiologically predisposed to be active when it's light outside and to sleep when it's dark. But the advent of cheap electrical lighting has made possible the modern phenomena of graveyard-shifts and all-nighters.
We're just beginning to understand the negative repercussions of failing to resonate with our planet's daily rotation about its axis.
A recent study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences suggests that falling out of sync with the Earth's normal 24-hour schedule has effects that mimic the metabolic derangement associated with the Neolithic diet and Syndrome X. This is only one study and not a particularly well-controlled one. There's certainly much more work to be done on this subject, but these results do suggest that a failure to maintain a regular pattern of nightly sleep will counteract the metabolic benefits of a healthy diet.
Click here for a brief commentary on the work.
A note to readers: I'd like to thank everyone who has continued to drop in on this blog despite the dearth of posts lately. I've been working hard to find an academic position for the last few months and this has left little time for blogging. The good news is that it's paid off. I'll be starting my own lab at the University of Michigan in the Molecular Cellular and Developmental Biology Department this fall. I feel honored to have been welcomed by such a great institution and department.
I'm still cooking Paleo and will continue to post recipes along with the occasional bit of Science and Literature, though there may be some lags in posting as I adapt to life as an Assistant Professor.
Thanks to you all for your continued interest.