Researchers have shown in a new study that wounds caused during the night heal in a longer period of time than those caused during the day. This difference was discovered after specialists at the Medical Research Council in Cambridge monitored the recovery time of 118 victims of a fire.
Specialists have found that people who suffered burns between 20:00 and 08:00 required 28 extra days for recovery, as opposed to the 17 needed for daytime injured persons. Researchers believe that the circadian rhythm of the human body has not evolved so much to cope with night-time injuries because man’s ancestors were not active at night.
Dr. John O’Neill, the lead author of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, said, “It is the first time it has been discovered that circadian rhythm plays an important role in determining the effectiveness of how the body responds to the injury.”
“Probably, the human body has evolved to heal more quickly during the day, when it is more likely to occur. Prior to surgery, the patient’s internal clock could be reset by means of medication to get the healing as quickly as possible”, he adds.
The circadian rhythm of the body regulates almost every cell in the human body and causes within 24 hours more processes such as sleeping, secreting hormones and metabolism. In the initial tests, researchers used skin cells (fibroblasts and keratinocytes) as well as mice for injuring their skin throughout the day. In this case, the wounds were healed twice as effectively as those produced during the night.
Specialists have found that the same effect occurred in people with burns, whose skin cells were split more rapidly to heal the wound that occurred throughout the day.