Overview of circadian rhythms

Alcohol Res Health. 2001;25(2):85-93.


The daily light-dark cycle governs rhythmic changes in the behavior and/or physiology of most species. Studies have found that these changes are governed by a biological clock, which in mammals is located in two brain areas called the suprachiasmatic nuclei. The circadian cycles established by this clock occur throughout nature and have a period of approximately 24 hours. In addition, these circadian cycles can be synchronized to external time signals but also can persist in the absence of such signals. Studies have found that the internal clock consists of an array of genes and the protein products they encode, which regulate various physiological processes throughout the body. Disruptions of the biological rhythms can impair the health and well-being of the organism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alcoholism / physiopathology
  • Animals
  • Biological Clocks / genetics
  • Biological Clocks / physiology
  • Circadian Rhythm / genetics
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology*
  • Gene Expression / physiology
  • Humans
  • Sleep Disorders, Circadian Rhythm / physiopathology
  • Sleep Stages / genetics
  • Sleep Stages / physiology
  • Suprachiasmatic Nucleus / physiopathology