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Special episode

Thu, 22nd Mar 2012

What happens when we screw with our sleep patterns?

A child sleeping (c) Alessandro Zangrilli

Speaking at the Cambridge Neuroscience Seminar, Dr Michael Hastings and Dr Akhilesh Reddy from Cambridge explain the importance of sleep for learning and memory, preventing cancer, the health of your heart, mopping up toxic waste in your body, winning that Olympic Gold medal and why you shouldn’t have that midnight kebab!

Dr Hannah Critchlow from the Naked Scientists went along to the seminar to discuss their work with them........

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How long does it take for the circadian rhythm to catch up if you change your sleeping patterns suddenly? If it is a gradual change over a 24hr period say a shift of one hour a night then would that be ok? Aaron_Thomas, Fri, 23rd Mar 2012

I think most people say 1-2 days; exposure to strong daylight signals early in the day helps.

Chris chris, Fri, 23rd Mar 2012

Hi Airthumbs, I just spoke with Dr Michael Hastings about this and he agrees with Chris, saying:

"The rule of thumb is that for every one hour change in time zone / shift pattern, it takes 1 day to adjust.  So flying from London to New York = 5 hours difference, it takes 5 days in New York to get back into synch.  Then return journey will be another 5 days once back in London to get to London time.  Obviously people vary, but most find going west/ moving to a later shift, is easier than the opposite".

So, essentially a shift of one hour per night is ok. nakedhannah, Fri, 23rd Mar 2012

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