Can’t Sleep? This Bad Habit May Be To Blame

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In a surprising finding, researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center in Rochester, N.Y., have found that millions of insomniacs may be able to blame their inability to sleep on a daily habit that disrupts brain function.

According to these scientists, smoking blocks brain circadian activity that makes it easier to fall asleep at night.

“(Our) study has found a common pathway whereby cigarette smoke impacts both pulmonary and neurophysiological function. Further, the results suggest the possible therapeutic value of targeting this pathway with compounds that could improve both lung and brain functions in smokers,” says researcher Irfan Rahman, Ph.D. “We envisage that our findings will be the basis for future developments in the treatment of those patients who are suffering with tobacco smoke-mediated injuries and diseases.

Rahman and his colleagues found that tobacco smoke affects clock gene expression rhythms in the lungs by producing inflammation and depressed levels of brain activity.

Smoking decreases a molecule known as SIRTUIN1 (SIRT1, an anti-aging molecule) and this reduction alters the level of the clock protein (BMAL1) in both lung and brain tissues

“If you only stick to one New Year’s resolution this year, make it quitting smoking,” warns Gerald Weissmann, M.D., editor-in-chief of The FASEB Journal where the study appeared. “Only Santa Claus has a list longer than that of the ailments caused or worsened by smoking. If you like having a good night’s sleep, then that’s just another reason to never smoke.”

Carl Lowe

has written about health, fitness and nutrition for a wide range of publications including Prevention Magazine, Self Magazine and Time-Life Books. The author of more than a dozen books, he has been gluten-free since 2007.