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Does your body clock exist?

01-07-2012

The body clock might sound like something made up by US advertising agencies but in fact it is a legitimate physiological process. Its more proper name is circadian clock but the term body clock sums up its role nicely.

The body clock is a small cluster of nerve cells in the centre of your brain, roughly the size and shape of this letter "V". It is located just above the major junction for nerves coming from the eyes, and uses sunlight, or its absence, to ensure that it is synchronised with local time.

The body clock is in charge of regulating your body so that it is optimised for various times of the day and night, it makes your body temperature and blood pressure rise before you usually wake in the morning so that you body is ready to go when you do get up. It also triggers the release of “go getter” hormones when you need to start the day. The body clock is vital for making you awake during the day and sleepy at night. It is in charge of cell division, bone growth, and other aspects of body maintenance as well.

People who are totally blind generally experience trouble with their body clock as they are unable to calibrate it using sunlight.


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