Can the time of day a wound occurs affect the healing process? Research suggests it might be a factor.
In addition to where a wound is located and how it developed, researchers now also believe that the time of day you get your wound may have something to do with how it heals and the type of wound care you receive as well.
Daytime and nighttime wounds
According to a team of British scientists, wounds (including burn wounds and cuts) healed almost 60 percent sooner if the injury originally occurred during the daytime as opposed to during the night, as reported by CNN.
The researchers from the Medical Research Council Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England, looked at the treatment records of more than 110 burn patients from facilities in Wales and England. The findings were published in Science Translational Magazine.
The scientists found that patients whose burn wounds occurred between 8 p.m. and 8 a.m.took more time to heal than those that happened between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. More specifically, wounds that happened at night healed in approximately 28 days, compared to wounds incurred in the day, which healed in approximately 17 days.
So why does the wound healing process differ depending on the time of day the wound happened? The research points to circadian rhythms, which also naturally control your sleeping cycles, as well as your blood pressure and the behavior of your genes.
The scientists pointed out that each cell has an individual biological clock and they all synchronize thanks to temperature and hormones, as well as other bodily factors. The entire system is controlled by the section of the brain called the hypothalamic suprachiasmatic nuclei.
The body clock
They believe the faster healing in the daytime is due the body clock, which moved skin cells faster to the wound site to aid in repair. The increased speed of healing was reportedly due to the heightened activity of proteins during that time of the day, or more responsive during the active phase than during the resting phase.
Experiments on the effects of the time of day on wound healing were conducted on mice. According to the lead author of the study, Ned Hoyle, it is the individual cells, and not body signals, that drive the response.
“One of the main jobs of these cells in a whole animal is to respond to wounds by moving into them and secreting proteins to repair the damage,” Hoyle told CNN.
Furthermore, Hoyle and other researchers believe that the healing properties and cellular clock of the individual cells can possibly be adjusted to respond to the best time for healing. They suggest that surgery could be performed to coincide with the patient’s individual biological clock. Patients who are “morning people,” for instance, could have their surgery done in the daytime when their cells will respond better, while “night owls” can have theirs performed in the evening.
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