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How the world’s best scientists are hacking sleep


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Photo: Stocksy/Bonnin Studio

This morning the winners of the 2017 Nobel Prize were announced, and a team of three American scientists was singled out—but not for cloning some sort of animal (that was so 2012) or making peanut-butter cups that are as healthy as kale (still waiting on that one). The trio took home the $940,000 prize for tackling another trending wellness topic: sleep.

“[They were] able to peek inside of our biological clock and explain how plants, animals, and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions,” the Nobel Prize committee stated. While the scientists—Jeffrey C. Hall, Michael Rosbash, and Michael W. Young—based their research off of fruit flies, there are some major takeaways for people, as well.

“[They were] able to peek inside of our biological clock and explain how plants, animals, and humans adapt their biological rhythm so that it is synchronized with the Earth’s revolutions.”

The scientific team zeroed in on how circadian rhythms work, regulating everything from sleep, hormone levels, and metabolism. They discovered a protein that increases in size at night and shrinks during the day. According to the New York Times, the reason why the committee says this is so revolutionary is because it shows how a person’s internal clock is linked to the Earth’s rhythm and does in fact work on a 24-hour cycle. In other words, there’s a reason why your body doesn’t exactly work properly when you skip time zones or don’t get enough sleep.

While the winners’ work is quite complicated, the conclusion is pretty simple: The body works on a 24-hour cycle, and if you don’t give it enough sleep, your metabolism and hormone levels get thrown out of whack. Just another reason to get your precious eight hours in your snooze sanctuary tonight.

If, for you, sleeping eight hours a night is easier said than done, try working these foods into your diet. Plus, four surprising things you never knew about metabolism.