Dr Dale Rae, senior researcher, Department of Human Biology, University of Cape Town
Have you ever wondered why you are an early bird, revelling in the early part of the day, while your partner or child is the complete opposite – a night owl? This can be explained by our bodies’ ‘circadian rhythms’, or 24-hour clock.
The first part of this lecture will explain what circadian rhythms are, how they function within our bodies, and how they shape our behaviour. It will touch on the interplay between circadian rhythms and health. Specifically, it will examine why maintaining normal rhythms is critical for good health, the effects of disruption of the circadian system on sleep, and the way such disruptions link to the development of diseases such as obesity, diabetes and cancer.
The second part of the lecture hones in on sleep – driven by our circadian rhythms, critical for our survival, and yet often one of the first aspects of our lifestyle compromised in a world in which we are forever seeking more hours in the day. It will briefly explore what exactly sleep is, its function, and its all-important link with health and disease.