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Concept: Diurnality


Given the pervasive use of screen-based media and the high prevalence of insufficient sleep among American youth and teenagers, this brief report summarizes the literature on electronic media and sleep and provides research recommendations. Recent systematic reviews of the literature reveal that the vast majority of studies find an adverse association between screen-based media consumption and sleep health, primarily via delayed bedtimes and reduced total sleep duration. The underlying mechanisms of these associations likely include the following: (1) time displacement (ie, time spent on screens replaces time spent sleeping and other activities); (2) psychological stimulation based on media content; and (3) the effects of light emitted from devices on circadian timing, sleep physiology, and alertness. Much of our current understanding of these processes, however, is limited by cross-sectional, observational, and self-reported data. Further experimental and observational research is needed to elucidate how the digital revolution is altering sleep and circadian rhythms across development (infancy to adulthood) as pathways to poor health, learning, and safety outcomes (eg, obesity, depression, risk-taking).

Concepts: Diurnality, Adolescence, Digital media, Electronic media, Chronotype, Sleep disorder, Circadian rhythm, Sleep


Disturbances in the sleep-wake cycle and circadian rhythms are common symptoms of Alzheimer Disease (AD), and they have generally been considered as late consequences of the neurodegenerative processes. Recent evidence demonstrates that sleep-wake and circadian disruption often occur early in the course of the disease and may even precede the development of cognitive symptoms. Furthermore, the sleep-wake cycle appears to regulate levels of the pathogenic amyloid-beta peptide in the brain, and manipulating sleep can influence AD-related pathology in mouse models via multiple mechanisms. Finally, the circadian clock system, which controls the sleep-wake cycle and other diurnal oscillations in mice and humans, may also have a role in the neurodegenerative process. In this review, we examine the current literature related to the mechanisms by which sleep and circadian rhythms might impact AD pathogenesis, and we discuss potential therapeutic strategies targeting these systems for the prevention of AD.

Concepts: Diurnal cycle, Alzheimer's disease, Circadian rhythms, Chronotype, Diurnality, Sleep, Circadian rhythm


In spaceflight human circadian rhythms and sleep patterns are likely subject to change, which consequently disturbs human physiology, cognitive abilities and performance efficiency. However, the influence of microgravity on sleep and circadian clock as well as the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. Placing volunteers in a prone position, whereby their heads rest at an angle of -6° below horizontal, mimics the microgravity environment in orbital flight. Such positioning is termed head-down bed rest (HDBR). In this work, we analysed the influence of a 45-day HDBR on physiological diurnal rhythms. We examined urinary electrolyte and hormone excretion, and the results show a dramatic elevation of cortisol levels during HDBR and recovery. Increased diuresis, melatonin and testosterone were observed at certain periods during HDBR. In addition, we investigated the changes in urination and defecation frequencies and found that the rhythmicity of urinary frequency during lights-off during and after HDBR was higher than control. The grouped defecation frequency data exhibits rhythmicity before and during HDBR but not after HDBR. Together, these data demonstrate that HDBR can alter a number of physiological processes associated with diurnal rhythms.

Concepts: Delayed sleep phase syndrome, Circadian rhythms, Melatonin, Physiology, Diurnality, Chronotype, Sleep, Circadian rhythm


To compare the effects of a single nocturnal dose of 3 honey products (eucalyptus honey, citrus honey, or labiatae honey) to placebo (silan date extract) on nocturnal cough and difficulty sleeping associated with childhood upper respiratory tract infections (URIs).

Concepts: Diurnality, Hypnotic, Circadian rhythm, Sleep disorder, Lower respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract, Upper respiratory tract infection, Respiratory system


Nocturnality is a key evolutionary innovation of mammals that enables mammals to occupy relatively empty nocturnal niches. Invasion of ancestral mammals into nocturnality has long been inferred from the phylogenetic relationships of crown Mammalia, which is primarily nocturnal, and crown Reptilia, which is primarily diurnal, although molecular evidence for this is lacking. Here we used phylogenetic analyses of the vision genes involved in the phototransduction pathway to predict the diel activity patterns of ancestral mammals and reptiles. Our results demonstrated that the common ancestor of the extant Mammalia was dominated by positive selection for dim-light vision, supporting the predominate nocturnality of the ancestral mammals. Further analyses showed that the nocturnality of the ancestral mammals was probably derived from the predominate diurnality of the ancestral amniotes, which featured strong positive selection for bright-light vision. Like the ancestral amniotes, the common ancestor of the extant reptiles and various taxa in Squamata, one of the main competitors of the temporal niches of the ancestral mammals, were found to be predominate diurnality as well. Despite this relatively apparent temporal niche partitioning between ancestral mammals and the relevant reptiles, our results suggested partial overlap of their temporal niches during crepuscular periods.

Concepts: Nocturnality, Diurnality, Amniote, Crepuscular, Synapsid, Evolution, Mammal, Reptile


Circadian rhythms enable organisms to synchronise the processes underpinning survival and reproduction to anticipate daily changes in the external environment. Recent work shows that daily (circadian) rhythms also enable parasites to maximise fitness in the context of ecological interactions with their hosts. Because parasite rhythms matter for their fitness, understanding how they are regulated could lead to innovative ways to reduce the severity and spread of diseases. Here, we examine how host circadian rhythms influence rhythms in the asexual replication of malaria parasites. Asexual replication is responsible for the severity of malaria and fuels transmission of the disease, yet, how parasite rhythms are driven remains a mystery. We perturbed feeding rhythms of hosts by 12 hours (i.e. diurnal feeding in nocturnal mice) to desynchronise the host’s peripheral oscillators from the central, light-entrained oscillator in the brain and their rhythmic outputs. We demonstrate that the rhythms of rodent malaria parasites in day-fed hosts become inverted relative to the rhythms of parasites in night-fed hosts. Our results reveal that the host’s peripheral rhythms (associated with the timing of feeding and metabolism), but not rhythms driven by the central, light-entrained circadian oscillator in the brain, determine the timing (phase) of parasite rhythms. Further investigation reveals that parasite rhythms correlate closely with blood glucose rhythms. In addition, we show that parasite rhythms resynchronise to the altered host feeding rhythms when food availability is shifted, which is not mediated through rhythms in the host immune system. Our observations suggest that parasites actively control their developmental rhythms. Finally, counter to expectation, the severity of disease symptoms expressed by hosts was not affected by desynchronisation of their central and peripheral rhythms. Our study at the intersection of disease ecology and chronobiology opens up a new arena for studying host-parasite-vector coevolution and has broad implications for applied bioscience.

Concepts: Plasmodium berghei, Chronobiology, Diurnality, Oscillation, Malaria, Circadian rhythms, Immune system, Circadian rhythm


The temporal organization of activity/rest or sleep/wake rhythms for mammals is regulated by the interaction of light/dark cycle and circadian clocks. The neural and molecular mechanisms that confine the active phase to either day or night period for the diurnal and the nocturnal mammals are unclear. Here we report that prokineticin 2, previously shown as a circadian clock output molecule, is expressed in the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells, and the expression of prokineticin 2 in the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells is oscillatory in a clock-dependent manner. We further show that the prokineticin 2 signaling is required for the activity and arousal suppression by light in the mouse. Between the nocturnal mouse and the diurnal monkey, a signaling receptor for prokineticin 2 is differentially expressed in the retinorecipient suprachiasmatic nucleus and the superior colliculus, brain projection targets of the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells. Blockade with a selective antagonist reveals the respectively inhibitory and stimulatory effect of prokineticin 2 signaling on the arousal levels for the nocturnal mouse and the diurnal monkey. Thus, the mammalian diurnality or nocturnality is likely determined by the differential signaling of prokineticin 2 from the intrinsically photosensitive retinal ganglion cells onto their retinorecipient brain targets.

Concepts: Photosensitive ganglion cell, Nocturnality, Gene expression, Signal transduction, Retina, Nervous system, Circadian rhythm, Diurnality


This study quantifies sex differences in the diurnal and circadian variation of sleep and waking while controlling for menstrual cycle phase and hormonal contraceptive use. We compared the diurnal and circadian variation of sleep and alertness of 8 women studied during two phases of the menstrual cycle and 3 women studied during their midfollicular phase with that of 15 men. Participants underwent an ultradian sleep-wake cycle (USW) procedure consisting of 36 cycles of 60-min wake episodes alternating with 60-min nap opportunities. Core body temperature (CBT), salivary melatonin, subjective alertness, and polysomnographically recorded sleep were measured throughout this procedure. All analyzed measures showed a significant diurnal and circadian variation throughout the USW procedure. Compared with men, women demonstrated a significant phase advance of the CBT but not melatonin rhythms, as well as an advance in the diurnal and circadian variation of sleep measures and subjective alertness. Furthermore, women experienced an increased amplitude of the diurnal and circadian variation of alertness, mainly due to a larger decline in the nocturnal nadir. Our results indicate that women are likely initiating sleep at a later circadian phase than men, which may be one factor contributing to the increased susceptibility to sleep disturbances reported in women. Lower nighttime alertness is also observed, suggesting a physiological basis for a greater susceptibility to maladaptation to night shift work in women.

Concepts: Diurnality, Birth control, Delayed sleep phase syndrome, Circadian rhythms, Hormonal contraception, Sleep, Menstrual cycle, Circadian rhythm


Circadian rhythms, among other factors, have been shown to regulate key physiological processes involved in athletic performance [1-7]. Personal best performance of athletes in the evening was confirmed across different sports [8-12]. Contrary to this view, we identified peak performance times in athletes to be different between human “larks” and “owls” (also called “morningness/eveningness types” [13] or “chronotypes” [14] and referred to as circadian phenotypes in this paper), i.e., individuals with well-documented genetic [15-20] and physiological [21-24] differences that result in disparities between their biological clocks and how they entrain to exogenous cues, such as the environmental light/dark cycle and social factors. We found time since entrained awakening to be the major predictor of peak performance times, rather than time of day, as well as significant individual performance variations as large as 26% in the course of a day. Our novel approach combining the use of an athlete-specific chronometric test, longitudinal circadian analysis, and physical performance tests to characterize relevant sleep/wake and performance parameters in athletes allows a comprehensive analysis of the link between the circadian system and diurnal performance variation. We establish that the evaluation of an athlete’s personal best performance requires consideration of circadian phenotype, performance evaluation at different times of day, and analysis of performance as a function of time since entrained awakening. VIDEO ABSTRACT:

Concepts: Biology, Diurnal cycle, Diurnality, Circadian rhythms, Time, Sleep, Circadian rhythm


BACKGROUND: An endogenous circadian clock controls locomotor activity in common spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus). However, little is known about the effects of constant light (LL) on this activity or about the existence of an additional food entrainable clock. A series of experiments were performed to investigate the effects of LL and DD on tau and activity levels. METHODS: Spiny mice were housed individually and their running wheel activity monitored. One group of mice was exposed to LD, DD and several intensities of LL. Another group was exposed to a restricted feeding (RF) paradigm in light: dark (LD) during one hour before the L to D transition. Significance of rhythmicity was assessed using Lomb-Scargle periodograms. RESULTS: In LD all animals exhibited nocturnal activity rhythms that persisted in DD. When animals were exposed to RF (during L), all of these animals (n = 11) demonstrated significant food anticipatory activity as well as an increase in diurnal activity. This increase in diurnal activity persisted in 4/11 animals during subsequent ad libitum conditions. Under LL conditions, the locomotor rhythms of 2/11 animals appeared to entrain to RF. When animals were exposed to sequentially increasing LL intensities, rhythmicity persisted and, while activity decreased significantly, the free-running period was relatively unaffected. In addition, the period in LL was significantly longer than the period in DD. Exposure to LL also induced long-term changes (after-effects) on period and activity when animals were again exposed to DD. CONCLUSIONS: Overall these studies demonstrate clear and robust circadian rhythms of wheel-running in A. cahirinus. In addition, LL clearly inhibited activity in this species and induced after-effects. The results also confirm the presence of a food entrainable oscillator in this species.

Concepts: Acomys, Diurnal cycle, Circadian rhythms, Diurnality, Period, Sleep, Circadian rhythm