Sleep-wake circadian rhythm is an important mechanism to maintain biological timekeeping, Healio reports.

The circadian clock is the “internal biological pacemaker” that governs 24-hour rhythms in sleep/wake cycles, food intake, and endocrine and metabolic pathways that are needed to maintain normal physiology and organismal homeostasis, Selma Masri, PhD, assistant professor in the department of biological chemistry at the Center for Epigenetics and Metabolism at the University of California, Irvine, said during a plenary lecture for the virtual American Society for Bone and Mineral Research Annual Meeting.

Altered behavior such as shift work or exposure to light at night, dietary challenges such as high-fat and high-sugar diets, and timing of food intake can disrupt circadian function, she said. The consequences of that disruption can affect every part of the body — changes in mood and sleep regulation, risks for metabolic syndrome and cancer, and even altered health span and accelerated aging.

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