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Endocrinology, sleep and circadian rhythms 

Endocrinology, sleep and circadian rhythms
Endocrinology, sleep and circadian rhythms

G. Brabant

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date: 19 May 2022

Endogenous circadian rhythms enable organisms to prepare for environmental changes and to temporally modify behavioural and physiological functions. A variation in energy demands appears to be the most important common denominator of these circadian changes, which renders the intimate reciprocal relation of circadian behaviour and endocrine rhythms no surprise. One of the most obvious examples of circadian behaviour is the sleep–wake cycle, closely linked to diurnal variations of locomotor activity, temperature regulation, and water/food intake. Already subtle changes in these circadian cycles may lead to detrimental effects in human biology. Such causative relationship between these changes and adverse biological effects have been obtained not only from mutations characterized in genes responsible for the generation and the integration of circadian rhythms but also from observational studies where circadian rhythmicity was experimentally changed. Life in modern societies tends to increasingly ignore the natural time cues and these environmental insults are increasingly recognized as the underlying mechanism for many pathophysiological changes and a higher susceptibility to disease. Focusing on endocrine-related effects, this chapter will highlight our current understanding of the genetic background of circadian rhythms, their integration with the light–dark cycle and their links to sleep-related changes (1).

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