The Abstract Podcast

Resetting the body clock: better sleep, better health

In this episode, we explore how changing our internal rhythm can transform our health.

Body clock concept.
GeorgePeters / Getty Images

The circadian rhythm (also known as the body clock) is a natural, internal clock that’s always running.

Swinging between alertness and sleepiness, it controls everything from our sleep cycles to our body temperatures, to how well our immune system runs. It also varies based on gender.

As life in lockdown does everything it can to disrupt that finely tuned system by upending daily routines and light exposure, our performance suffers, it gets harder to think straight, and simply getting through the day becomes a challenge.

Then there’s the doomscrolling in the middle of the night. As your device beams those artificial blue lights into your face, it messes with your melatonin — the hormone that controls the sleep-wake cycle. And we haven’t even gotten to the long nights of covid-somnia or those strange, vivid quarantine dreams — like the one where Covid-19 shows up at your door in the form of a rockstar and asks you how long you'd like to live.

All these factors conspire to screw up our internal rhythm, a shift that can weaken the immune system and make us feel like crap. Luckily, there’s a fungus for that. Researchers are hopeful a synthetic form of medicinal mushrooms could one day reset our body clocks instantly.

For now, reconnecting with our natural circadian rhythms can not only ramp up our body’s defense system against infectious diseases; it could finally lead to a better night's sleep for everybody.

In this episode of The Abstract, we explore how changing our internal rhythm can transform our health.

Our first story is about how the latest study on body clock science explains why men and women sleep differently. Researchers say better understanding these circadian rhythms, and disruptions to them, can transform how we work, travel, and, most importantly, sleep.

Our second story is about the discovery of a compound found in medicinal fungus that can rapidly reset the body clock. Offering new potential for night shift workers, jet lag sufferers, and anyone feeling out of whack, research suggests drastically changing our internal rhythm can revolutionize our overall health.

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Right now, facts and science matter more than ever. That's part of the reason for The Abstract, this all-new podcast from the Inverse staff that focuses exclusively on science and innovation. Three new episodes are released a week, and each covers one theme via two related stories. Each features audio of original Inverse reporting, where the facts and context take center stage. It's hosted by the Tanya Bustos of WSJ Podcasts. Because we're Inverse, it's all true but slightly off-kilter. It's made for people who want to know the whole story. Nick Lucchesi, executive editor, Inverse

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