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'Food Clock' May Override Master Sleep Clock in Times of Duress
Date:5/22/2008

er spinning wheels. And while under normal circumstances the master clock works nicely, in extreme situations, the master clock can be overridden, which is a very adaptive thing that makes a lot of sense from an evolutionary perspective."

While equally intrigued, Dr. Emmanuel Mignot, director of the Stanford University Center for Narcolepsy, cautioned that the current research with animals still needs to be replicated in humans.

"However, this work opens up the idea that while there certainly is a central light clock, and clearly light does 90 percent of the regulatory job, other factors may come into play," he said.

"In fact," Mignot added, "I would say that in most cells in your body, you have a clock, and most of the time, these clocks talk to each other. Because the body is always prepared to anticipate different changes that should happen at certain times of the day. So, I wouldn't be surprise if there's a clock in your skin to anticipate light in the day, and a clock in your kidneys, so you are prepared to go the restroom. It's not just about being tired. It's pretty much every function that's regulated by the time of the day."

More information

For additional information on sleep and the circadian rhythm, visit the National Sleep Foundation.



SOURCES: Clifford Saper, M.D., Ph.D., chairman, department of neurology, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and professor, neurology, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Ralph Downey III, Ph.D., chief, Sleep Medicine, Loma Linda University Medical Center, Loma Linda University Children's Hospital, Calif.; Emmanuel Mignot, M.D., professor, psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and director, Stanford University Center for Narcolepsy, Stanford University School of Medicine, Palo Alto, Calif.
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