Insufficient sleep and circadian rhythm disruption are associated with negative health outcomes, including obesity, cardiovascular disease, and cognitive impairment, but the mechanisms involved remain largely unexplored, the researchers have observed.
Their findings entitled: “Effects of insufficient sleep on circadian rhythmicity and expression amplitude of the human blood transcriptome,” was published in the Journal of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science of the United States of America, and made available to the Ghana News Agency on Wednesday.
The study said 26 participants were exposed to one week of insufficient sleep (sleep-restriction condition sleep per 24 hours) and one week of sufficient sleep (control condition sleep).
It said immediately following each condition, 10 whole-blood RNA samples were collected from each participant, while controlling the effects of light, activity and food, during a period of total sleep deprivation.
It said transcriptome analysis revealed that 711 genes were up-regulated or down-regulated by insufficient sleep.
The study said insufficient sleep also reduced the number of genes with a circadian expression profile from 1,855 to 1,481, reduced the circadian amplitude of these genes, and led to an increase in the number of genes that responded to subsequent total sleep deprivation from 122 to 856.
It said genes affected by insufficient sleep were associated with circadian rhythms sleep homeostasis, oxidative stress, and metabolism.
It noted that: “biological processes affected included chromatin modification, gene-expression regulation, macromolecular metabolism, and inflammatory, immune and stress responses.
“Thus, insufficient sleep affects the human blood transcriptome, disrupts its circadian regulation, and intensifies the effects of acute total sleep deprivation”.
The study said the identified biological processes may be involved with the negative effects of sleep loss on health, and highlight the interrelatedness of sleep homeostasis, circadian rhythmicity, and metabolism.
The study found that one week of insufficient sleep altered gene expression in human blood cells, reduced the amplitude of circadian rhythms in gene expression, and intensified the effects of subsequent acute total sleep loss on gene expression.