Time of day crucial for tests

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A new study published in the journal PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences), has found that time of day and sleep deprivation have a significant effect on our metabolism. The finding could be crucial when looking at the best time of day to test for diseases such as cancer and heart disease, and for administering medicines effectively.

Researchers from the University of Surrey and The Institute of Cancer Research, London, investigated the links between sleep deprivation, body clock disruption and metabolism, and discovered a clear variation in metabolism according to the time of day.

Healthy male volunteers were put in an environment where light, sleep, meals and posture were controlled. Researchers collected blood samples every two hours to show how metabolic biomarkers change during the day. For the first 24 hours, the participants experienced a normal wake/sleep cycle. This was followed by 24 hours of wakefulness, to investigate the effect of sleep deprivation on metabolic rhythms. The results showed that metabolic processes are significantly increased during sleep deprivation. 27 metabolites, including serotonin, were found at higher levels in periods of sleep deprivation compared to levels during sleep.

Co-Senior author, Dr Florence Raynaud, a group leader at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, said: "The study made accurate measurements of a large number of metabolites as they varied by time of day and under different sleep patterns. Our findings are likely to be important in interpreting the results of blood tests, and in understanding why some individuals respond differently to medication. They also set reference points for future studies looking at the connection between metabolic processes and diseases such as cancer."

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