How does sleep affect mitochondria?

Here’s what researchers have discovered, so far, about the relationship between mitochondria and sleep.

Coffee in bed

Sleep is a fascinating subject – and it’s an area of research that scientists have only scratched the surface of. An increasing number of studies have explored the connection between sleep and our mitochondria (the batteries within our cells), only to conclude that more information is needed in this area. That being said, here’s what researchers have discovered, so far, about the relationship between mitochondria and sleep.

Your mitochondria help your body repair itself while you sleep

If there’s one thing that researchers agree on, it’s that sleep is essential for our ongoing health and wellbeing.

“Your body grows and repairs itself while you sleep”, explains MitoQ’s Chief Scientific Officer, William Stow. “If your sleep cycle is not in a nice window, it can have major effects on hormone levels.”

Your body goes through a detailed chain reaction process while you sleep. This process begins with your mitochondria. For your body to grow and repair itself while you sleep, your mitochondria need to be producing ATP: a compound within your cells that helps to give your body energy. ATP controls the function of your anterior pituitary gland: the ‘master gland’ that lives at the base of your brain. When you sleep, this gland releases growth hormones that help your body grow and repair itself!

“Mitochondrial DNA contains 37 genes, all of which are essential for normal mitochondrial function”, expands Kai Man, MitoQ’s Research and Development Project Manager. “13 of these genes provide instructions for making enzymes involved in oxidative phosphorylation (a process which supports the production of ATP), while the rest help to assemble protein building blocks (amino acids) into functioning proteins. Without mitochondrial DNA, oxidative phosphorylation cannot occur, meaning that ATP is not produced.”

Multiple studies have concluded that a lack of sleep and/or abnormal sleep patterns can negatively affect mitochondrial DNA – which could then affect your body’s growth and repair process. While there is still some discussion surrounding whether it’s a lack of sleep that triggers mitochondrial DNA mutations or, vice versa: mitochondrial DNA mutations that influence poor sleep patterns – it's clear that these two areas of health are interlinked.

Mitochondria are involved in our sleep/wake cycle

In addition to helping your body repair itself during sleep, your mitochondria also influence your body’s sleep/wake cycle. Studies have proposed that mitochondria are the primary site of melatonin synthesis.

“Melatonin synthesis is the production of melatonin within your body”, explains Kai Man. “This hormone is secreted by the pineal gland which is in your brain. It helps control your body’s sleep pattern and sleep-wake cycle. The production increases with darkness to help promote healthy sleeping. While melatonin does not make you sleep, the increased levels help to promote sleep.”

While more human trials are needed in this area, studies have explored the connection between mitochondria and our circadian rhythm (the body’s internal body clock). So far, experts have found that sleep deprivation alters the enzyme activity and protein levels within the body – which highlights the mitochondria’s involvement in the body’s sleep/wake cycle. Researchers from one non-human trial have also suggested that mitochondrial systems are impaired when the circadian clock isn’t functioning properly – resulting in a lack of energy.

“Most evidence indicates that the circadian clock and mitochondrial function are related”, concludes Kai Man. “Evidence shows that the circadian clock controls the abundance and morphology of mitochondria by regulating biogenesis, fission/fusion and mitophagy. Unfortunately, there is very little direct evidence for mitochondrial regulation of feedback to the circadian clockwork. More research is needed.”


Sleep deprivation may contribute to cell stress

When we’re sleep-deprived, our bodies don’t function at their best. One study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, points out that this extends to our mitochondria’s ability to fight cell stress. Cell stress, also known as oxidative stress, is what happens when too many free radicals escape from your mitochondria and attack your cells. According to the study, free radicals are produced while you’re awake and are eliminated when you sleep. This suggests that a lack of sleep inhibits your body’s ability to fight cell stress. As your cells are the building blocks of your body, cell stress has the potential to significantly impact your general wellbeing and energy needs.

Another study, which investigated the effects that a 36-hour survival training with sleep deprivation had on oxidative stress in young healthy men, found that sleep deprivation impairs the body’s enzymatic antioxidant defenses. Basically, these results mean that a lack of sleep made the participants more susceptible to cell stress. The study’s researchers found that twelve hours of recovery was able to restore antioxidant defense levels in participants - putting their bodies in a better state to fight cell stress.

By supporting mitochondrial health, MitoQ can support energy and sleep quality

While we still have a lot more to learn about sleep, it’s clear that sleep and mitochondrial health are interlinked. Multiple studies have found that a lack of sleep can negatively affect mitochondrial function – and that’s where MitoQ can provide some support. Several studies have concluded that MitoQ significantly fights cell stress. It does this by supporting your mitochondrial defense system and energy production process. The result? Foundational support for a healthy body. Your mitochondria are supported during periods of sleep deprivation and are also stocked up to power your body’s growth and repair process while you sleep.

“After just 2 days I noticed a difference”, confirms MitoQ customer Ursula L. “in increased power output and possibly most intriguing of all is the increased quality of rest and recovery after effort. This is not a happy placebo effect: I use several state of the art sport performance wearables and they all track and confirm the impact of MitoQ. I cannot recommend it highly enough.”

In another testimonial, customer, Ann L., says “I’ve been using MitoQ since a Wahls conference last July. I have tons of energy even though I get little sleep sometimes (job hours), and I just turned 70!”

“In theory, a lack of sleep can result in oxidative stress and MitoQ can help with this”, confirms Kai Man. “MitoQ has been shown to have benefit in alleviating oxidative stress. So, if your normal responses are impaired, MitoQ can help neutralize ROS at its source to ensure your mitochondria can perform optimally by making sure the processes regulated by mitochondria are working as well.”

Browse the MitoQ range

Woman and child talking

How Your Mitochondria Are Holding Back Your Health Goals

If you’re falling short of your health goals, it could be your mitochondria health that’s holding you back.

Read more

MitoQ pure product

Targeted antioxidants: Explained

The problem with common antioxidant supplements on the market is that they often don’t reach the places that free radicals accumulate the most in the body – the mitochondria. MitoQ is different.

Read more