Why You Shouldn’t Mess With Your Body Clock: Expert

Next time you consider pulling an all-nighter, spare a thought for your poor body clock.

A world-leading sleep scientist will reveal the inner workings of our sleep cycle at a free public lecture to be held in central Sydney this week.

Professor Derk-Jan Dijk is an internationally-renown sleep expert with intimate knowledge of circadian rhythms, the internal biological mechanism that controls how our body and brain behave at particular times of the day.

“The best advice I can offer is don’t mess with your body clock,” says Professor Dijk, ahead of Wednesday’s address at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research in Glebe. “Take an all-nighter or a big weekend sleep-in, for instance. It might suit your lifestyle but that’s going to cause some real internal chaos that can have a devastating effect on your mental and physical health. The more you understand how your body clock works, the better.”

Professor Dijk, Director of the Surrey Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey, United Kingdom, is an international authority on the body clock, having studied circadian rhythms and sleep in humans for 35 years. The public lecture will cover the basics: what they are, where they’re located and what they regulate.

He’ll also go through the role of busy social lives and frantic work schedules on this internal biological clock, and how confusing it can damage your mood and make you more susceptible to disease.

“Your body clock also changes as you age, posing some mental health challenges, but there’s good news. We’re discovering new interventions that can reverse some of these changes and get your body clock back into line,” the scientist explains.

Professor Dijk will also reveal the latest on new genetic biomarkers for insufficient sleep and circadian disruption that hold promise for future discoveries.  

The talk is this year’s Ann Woolcock Lecture, a series of annual addresses to honour the Woolcock’s esteemed founder. To celebrate Professor Woolocock’s legacy, invited researchers share their ideas with industry, policy makers, doctors, specialists and patients with a view to prompting new collaborations to improve respiratory and sleep health.

The free lecture, Chaos In Our Body Clocks – A Pathway To Disease, will be held on Wednesday, 8 August at 5.30pm, at the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research headquarters in Glebe, Sydney. Bookings are essential, please email info@woolcocok.org.au