World Sleep Day: Turkish scientist hailed for insomnia discovery

Published 16.03.2018 00:00
World Sleep Day: Turkish scientist hailed for insomnia discovery

Ahead of World Sleep Day, which is celebrated today around the globe, Turkish scientist Professor Tayfun Özçelik of Bilkent University and his partner, Michael W. Young of New York's Rockefeller University, a Nobel laureate honored as one of the top three scientific discoveries of 2017 by Cell magazine, a U.S. science journal for their discovery of the "insomnia gene," which causes people to stay up late at night.

The "insomnia gene" was discovered by a team headed by Professor Özçelik after almost eight years of research.

Their study showed that mutations in Cryptochrome 1 (CRY1), one of the genes controlling the biological clock, could cause deteriorations in biological rhythm and the sleep cycle.

People with the mutated gene suffered from insomnia, making them feel as if they have jet lag.Özçelik said his team is continuing to research the biological clock.

"Biorhythm genes have to work well so that sleep, which occupies one-third of our lives, can be in order. Due to gene disorders, sleep is getting disturbed. Now we're researching what behaviors and diseases result from sleep disorders," he said.

World Sleep Day

Organized by the World Sleep Day Committee of the World Sleep Society, World Sleep Day is an annual event, intended to be a celebration of sleep and a call to action on important issues related to sleep, including medicine, education, and social aspects and driving. To lessen the burden of sleep problems on society through better prevention and management of sleep disorders, World Sleep Day is held the Friday before Spring Vernal Equinox each year.

Sleep disorders are very common among Turkish people. It has been reported that one in every 20 people in Turkey suffers from sleep apnea, which occurs when a person's breathing is interrupted during sleep. People with untreated sleep apnea stop breathing repeatedly during their sleep, sometimes hundreds of times. This means the brain - and the rest of the body - may not get enough oxygen.

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