Do men and women have different circadian rhythms?


New research may provide answers as to why some people tolerate being awake at night better than others.

Ida Kvittingen JOURNALIST

PUBLISHED Friday 18. september 2020 – 10:58

Staying awake at night and being able to sleep during the day goes against our natural circadian rhythm, but some people cope better than others.

Recently, researchers have found evidence that biological differences between the sexes can affect the circadian rhythm of both humans and mice.

There are many indications that women and men have internal clocks that are set a little differently, according to a background article in the journal Science about some of the more recent research in the field.

“It’s exciting and quite new that we can say something more about the mechanisms behind the differences in circadian rhythms,” says Andrea Rørvik Marti, a PhD candidate in psychology at the University of Bergen (UiB).

But she’s quick to add that while gender can affect circadian rhythms, a lot of other things may do so too. There are many more similarities than differences between the sexes.

Your biological clock is found throughout the body

Nobel laureates Michael Rosbach, Jeffrey C. Hall and Michael W. Young found that genes control our inner clock, which ticks away depending on light and darkness.

This clock is found throughout the body, Marti says, but the brain is in the driver’s seat.

“The brain is the conductor of an orchestra. Every single cell in our body contains genes that control that clock. They are the musicians,” she says.

“When you have to be awake and active at an unexpected time, you confuse these clocks. The big question is why some people have problems as a result, and why others deal with it quite well,” she says.

While some people think night shifts are fine, other people never get used to them.

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