Blood Tests Can Show The Time In your Body: Are You “a Morning Lark or a Night Owl”?


A lot of people perceive time differently, and that’s because we all have a personal clock – our internal circadian time. But how do we know if our body is more of a night owl or an early bird?

Researchers at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine have published a study in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reporting of a new method to measure the internal clock of a person.

TimeSignature Test

The TimeSignature test is a blood test that precisely measures a person’s inner clock with only two blood draws at a few hours distance, explains the lead author of the study, assistant professor of preventive medicine, Rosemary Braun:

“This is a much more precise and sophisticated measurement than identifying whether you are a morning lark or a night owl. We can assess a person’s biological clock to within 1.5 hours. Various groups have tried to get at internal circadian time from a blood test, but nothing has been as accurate or as easy to use as TimeSignature.”

Previous types of measurements were only after costly and long processes that included many blood samples every hour for a long period.

The Personal Clock

Each body is orchestrated by an internal biological clock which directs the sleep-wake cycle – known as circadian rhythm. Some people are in sync with the external time, while are others are misaligned.

This test would help researchers examine the impact of misalignment on many patients that suffer from diseases like diabetes, Alzheimer’s and heart disease.

As soon as TimeSignature is available, doctors will also be able to find a way to make medication more effective according to the individual’s internal body.

The chief of sleep medicine in neurology and a professor of neurology, Phyllis Zee, concluded that the test is a part of personalized medicine and that:

“So many drugs have optimal times for dosing. Knowing what time it is in your body is critical to getting the most effective benefits. The best time for you to take the blood pressure drug or the chemotherapy or radiation may be different from somebody else.”


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