Do you get enough sleep? How much is enough and why sleep at all? A study out of the University of Tennessee Knoxville has shed light on the age-old question of why sleep is important. All animals sleep without exception, and if deprived of sleep they have to sleep more to fully recover. This is a problem for modern man, as the screens we constantly stare at emit lots of blue light, which prevents us from falling asleep. It turns out that lack of sleep can throw off processes that guide growth, development, adaptation and brain activity.  

Protein synthesis in plants and humans

One of the study’s researchers, Albrecht von Arnim, a molecular biologist from the Department of Biochemistry and Cellular and Molecular Biology, and team looked at how protein synthesis is affected by changes in the circadian clock (day-night cycle). Protein synthesis is a complex process that is fundamental for growth and renewal of cells and its disruption can have major effects on the body. Their findings, published in the journal Plant Cell also have implications in agriculture, as a way to increase crop yields.

How much sleep do you really need?


Recommended number of hours

Infants (0-3 months)

14-17 hours

Infants (4-11 months)

12-15 hours

Toddlers (1-2 years)

11-14 hours

Preschoolers (3-5)

10-13 hours

School age children (6-13)

9-11 hours

Teenagers (14-17)

8-10 hours

Younger adults (18-25)

7-9 hours

Adults (26-64)

7-9 hours

Older adults (65+)

7-8 hours

Source: National Sleep Foundation

"When we misalign our behavior with our circadian clock, for example by creating jet lag, or by working as a night owl, we do not only disrupt normal physiological processes such as cycles of appetite and body temperature," von Arnim said. "This work in plants suggests that we may also be interfering with a more fundamental cellular process, protein synthesis."

Blue light from the screens we look at keeps us awake, impeding the natural sleep-wake cycle, which in turn has ill-effects on the immune system and restoration. What can we do about this? There are special glasses you can buy, but Team BiMedis recommends f.lux a program that makes the color of your computer's display adapt to the time of day, warm at night and like sunlight during the day.

Anamika Missra, Ben Ernest, Tim Lohoff, Qidong Jia, James Satterlee, Kenneth Ke, and Albrecht G. von Arnim The Circadian Clock Modulates Global Daily Cycles of mRNA Ribosome Loading PLANT CELL 2015 27: 2582-2599.

By Dr. Yuriy Sarkisov, BiMedis staff writer