2018 Theme: The Physiology of our Body Clocks

Sleep is something we all do; in fact it is vital for survival. Research has shown that people who sleep less than six hours a night have a 13% increased risk of death, compared to those who sleep between seven to nine hours (Hafner, 2016). Margaret Thatcher and Thomas Edison were also famous short sleepers. Ironically it is one of Edison’s inventions, the light bulb that has contributed much towards the sleep deprivation and circadian disruption that many of us feel. He is reported to have slept only 3-4 hours at night, regarding sleep as a waste of time. So why, and how do we sleep? What are the neural mechanisms that regulate sleep and circadian rhythms, and what happens when they go wrong? These questions are fundamental to our health.

Good sleep is associated with enhanced learning, specifically in adolescents and disturbed sleep can lead to a loss of productivity and personal suffering (RSPH, 2016). It is estimated that 200,000 working days are lost each year in the UK due to sleep deprivation. And if individuals who sleep less than six hours a night started sleeping six to seven hours this could add $29.9 billion to the UK economy. However, lifestyle factors such as excessive electronic media use and our 24/7 society make it increasingly difficult to prioritize sleep, which in turn enhances psychosocial stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, obesity and lack of exercise among others. As a nation understanding the personal and economic benefits of sleep and increasing awareness of these is vital.

Sleep and circadian rhythms from mechanisms to function

05 December 2018 - 06 December 2018

Barbican, London, United Kingdom

More information about this conference to come shortly. 

Journal virtual issues

A collection of research published on sleep and chronobiology in Experimental Physiology and The Journal of Physiology, compiled in conjunction with The Physiological Society’s theme for 2018.

The Journal of Physiology virtual issue

Experimental Physiology virtual issue


Call for proposals: 2018 – The Physiology of our Body Clocks

The Physiological Society is committed to supporting our Members in communicating their work to wider audiences. We believe an engaged cohort of young people and a well-informed public is key to ensuring a new generation of high quality physiologists and continued excellence in physiological research. Each year we aim to shine a public spotlight on different areas of Member research and show its relevance to people’s lives. Our call for proposal to be involved with focus on The Physiology of our Body Clocks is now open! Please email outreach@physoc.org for more information.

Past events

The Science and Culture of Sleep and Sleeplessness

Sleep is an enormous part of our lives and has fascinated scientists, artists and writers for centuries: Why do we sleep? And why do we sometimes struggle to sleep?

UCL Grand Challenges held a day of informal talks – with perspectives on sleep and sleeplessness from biologists, historians, artists, medics and cultural critics – and continued discussion over drinks in the evening.

Free Word Centre, 10 January 2018, 11.15 – 21.00

Sleep Across the Animal Kingdom

Do all animals sleep? How can we tell? Attend this evening event in which Dr James Jepson, Dr Jason Rihel and Kimberley Whitehead will discuss sleep patterns from flies to humans.

Grant Museum of Zoology, 28 February 2018, 18:00 – 19:00