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Endocr Rev. 2016 Dec;37(6):584-608. Epub 2016 Oct 20.

Circadian Rhythm and Sleep Disruption: Causes, Metabolic Consequences, and Countermeasures.

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Division of Epidemiology and Biostatistics (G.D.M.P., L.J.H.), LIGHT Laboratories, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom; Chronobiology Section (D.J.S., J.A.), Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XH, United Kingdom; Nutritional Epidemiology Group (J.E.C.), School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom; and Division of Cardiovascular & Diabetes Research (P.J.G.), LIGHT Laboratories, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, United Kingdom.


Circadian (∼24-hour) timing systems pervade all kingdoms of life and temporally optimize behavior and physiology in humans. Relatively recent changes to our environments, such as the introduction of artificial lighting, can disorganize the circadian system, from the level of the molecular clocks that regulate the timing of cellular activities to the level of synchronization between our daily cycles of behavior and the solar day. Sleep/wake cycles are intertwined with the circadian system, and global trends indicate that these, too, are increasingly subject to disruption. A large proportion of the world's population is at increased risk of environmentally driven circadian rhythm and sleep disruption, and a minority of individuals are also genetically predisposed to circadian misalignment and sleep disorders. The consequences of disruption to the circadian system and sleep are profound and include myriad metabolic ramifications, some of which may be compounded by adverse effects on dietary choices. If not addressed, the deleterious effects of such disruption will continue to cause widespread health problems; therefore, implementation of the numerous behavioral and pharmaceutical interventions that can help restore circadian system alignment and enhance sleep will be important.

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