Our internal body clocks govern more than just when we sleep but also determine how our immune systems perform and how we heal. And we might be able to use this to keep us healthier, reports the BBC.
Take a good hard look at the skin of your forearm. Pinch it if you like. It may not look or feel any different from the way it did 12 hours ago, but if you were to cut or burn it, the skin would heal more than twice as fast if you injured it during daylight hours, compared to if it happened at night.
This variation in our response to insult and injury extends far beyond the skin. If you go for a seasonal flu jab, aim for a morning appointment: you’ll produce more than four times as many protective antibodies if you’re injected with it between 9am and 11am, compared to six hours later. Should you ever require heart surgery, however, the converse is true: your long-term survival prospects are significantly better if you go under the knife in the afternoon.
Indeed, wherever you look in the body, from the brain to the immune system, 24-hour rhythms that govern the activity of cells and tissues – often referred to as “circadian rhythms” – appear to dictate our physical recovery from infection and injury.