A study finds out why we woke up in the morning before hearing the alarm
There are many factors that intervene at bedtime in a placid manner at night, and sleep problems affect many individuals for different reasons: work stress, problems in the relationship, poor sleep hygiene, etc. ., Due to the importance that sleeping properly has for our lives it is not strange that many investigations have been directed in this direction.
An example of this is a study that was interested in understanding why we open our eyes in the morning before the alarm goes off . In this article we echo its conclusions.
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Why do we wake up before the alarm goes off?
Just a few days ago something happened to me that made me reflect. I arrived in bed very sleepy since the day had been very exhausting. The next day I had a meeting in the morning and I had to wake up early to go to the appointment. I thought I had placed the cell phone alarm as I do every night before going to bed, but the dream played a trick on me: I had set the time but I had not given the option to connect the alarm. Luckily, what could actually have been a problem was not because I woke up at the same time as always without the need for the alarm to do its job .
Why did this happen to me? Well the answer is the scientists of the Salk Biological Studies Institute in the United States, who have discovered a component that controls the biological clock and the sleep cycle in mice, and presumably humans.
In the molecular mechanism that controls our sleep-wake state is present an enzyme that is called JARID1a . This particle is known in the field of biology for its role in the modification of histones, proteins that surround DNA in a protective complex called chromatin. What was not known, and that we now know thanks to this team of researchers, is that it also initiates the daily process of awakening.
The researchers also found that the deficiencies in this protein interrupt and cause irregular periods of sleep . The study was published last week in the magazine Science.
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How this mechanism works
Researchers at the Salk Institute discovered that a protein called PERIOD (PER) is extremely important in the molecular mechanisms in sleep and wakefulness. The cells of our bodies use PER to perceive the time of day , and they tell us when and how to wake up.
At night, PER levels decline , which causes our blood pressure, heart rate, and our mental activity to decline. But as we get closer to awakening and, consequently, to wakefulness, the enzyme called JARID1a works like an alarm that tells our body that it should start working for the new day that awaits us.
Another similar study
A similar study, conducted by the University of Lübeck in Germany, explored the effects of this enzyme. For this, they had a group of subjects who had to wake up at 6 am and 9 am. The researchers lied to the participants, because those who thought they should wake up at 9 in the morning, did so at 6 o'clock like the other group.
Scientists discovered that in those who had been correctly informed, Stress hormones increased around 4:30 in the morning . However, the hormone levels of the 9 am group did not increase and were aroused when the researchers forced them to do so.
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The importance of good sleep hygiene
According to Luciano DiTacchio, a researcher at the Salk Institute who led the study together with Satchidananda Panda, "these conclusions can be decisive for possible future treatments with regard to sleep problems."
However, these results can not only be useful for those who have sleep problems and can not sleep well, but rather are important to prevent sleep difficulties and to improve the quality of it. These results indicate that if we have a good sleep hygiene, and we follow a frequent schedule to sleep, we have a better chance of our body activating on its own before the alarm even sounds.
Therefore, if you are one of those people who go to bed every day at a different time and you realize that you are in class in the morning but as if you were not because your concentration does not manifest, you have probably woken up before Your body has adapted to the situation.
Tips to improve sleep hygiene
Experts say that to sleep well you need to follow these principles that are essential for good sleep hygiene:
- Take care of the environment so as not to interrupt the quality of sleep.
- Follow a ritual to sleep , and going to bed normally at the same time.
- Take care of the diet
- Avoid stimulants from mid afternoon.
- Practice physical exercise , but not after 6pm.
- Do not abuse the siesta.
- Avoid consuming alcoholic beverages before going to bed.
- Do not stare at screens for a long time before going to sleep.
You can deepen these recommendations in this article: "10 basic principles for good sleep hygiene".