New research has found that besides making you tired, lack of adequate sleep can short-circuit your system and interfere with a fundamental cellular process that drives physical growth, physiological adaptation and even brain activity.
"When we misalign our behavior with our circadian clock, for example by creating jet lag, or by working as a night owl, we do not only disrupt normal physiological processes such as cycles of appetite and body temperature," said one of the researchers Albrecht von Arnim from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, US.
"This work in plants suggests that we may also be interfering with a more fundamental cellular process, protein synthesis," von Arnim noted. Muscle action, brain activity, growth and development are functions all performed by proteins whose synthesis is carefully regulated, he said.
The team also explored whether any such changes are controlled by the organism's internal time keeper, the circadian clock. Proteins are newly created in every cell by translating messages made from the cell's own DNA, the genome.
The researchers found that protein synthesis activity not only changed over the course of the day, but also that it was under the influence of the circadian clock. The study was published in the journal Plant Cell.