Timing is everything, and it also has a huge impact on your health. Now there’s a blood test to better understand your internal time clock and optimize it for better well-being. The TimeSignature test was developed by researchers at Northwestern Medicine scientists.

It requires two blood draws. It offers insights through gene expression markers into the time in your body compared to time in the external world. For instance, it may be 8 a.m., but your body may be operating as if it’s 6 a.m. Previously, determining a person’s internal clock could only be done by drawing blood multiple times over a specific span.

The test, which measures 40 different gene expression markers in the blood, can be performed any time of day, regardless of the patient’s circadian pattern or level of restfulness. The study was published in PNAS earlier this month.

Knowing more about your internal clock can help you optimize your time, take medication at the best time, and may even prevent disease, experts say. There is plenty of evidence indicating that the alignment between your internal clock and when you schedule your activities throughout the day can impact your overall health.

Sleep Time

She said that there seem to be optimal windows for when to sleep, eat, and complete other activities based on our internal time clocks, which vary among people. In healthy people, the timing of the internal clock varies by up to five hours, which means one person’s optimal bedtime might be 9 p.m. and someone else’s might be 2 a.m.

If you try to sleep at a time that’s not ideal for your internal clock, then you may have trouble sleeping, St. Hilaire said. Similarly, eating a meal at the “wrong” internal time could cause changes in metabolism, including weight gain.

If we know our personal internal time, then we may be able to schedule these activities around our optimal windows.

Testing Internal Clock

This is a much more precise and sophisticated measurement than identifying whether you’re a morning lark or a night owl. Our body’s biological clock directs our circadian rhythms, which include sleep and wake cycles. Previous research has linked circadian misalignments with everything from obesity and depression to heart disease and asthma.

Researchers say the information from the blood test will help people take medication at the most effective time for their bodies. It can also help scientists better understand how misaligned circadian clocks impact health conditions and diseases.

This is an integral part of personalized medicine. So many drugs have optimal times for dosing. Knowing what time it is in your body is critical to getting the most effective benefits. The best time for you to take a blood pressure drug or chemotherapy or radiation may be different from somebody else.

Better Clock, Better Health

Circadian rhythms play a complex role in just about every system in your body. Maintaining good circadian health, therefore, seems to be a key factor in maintaining good overall health. A new test measures 40 different gene expression markers in the blood and can tell offer insights into the time in your body compared to time in the external world.

If you optimize your internal clock, you may be able to improve your health by taking medication at the most optimal time, working out at the right time, or figuring out if you’re a morning person or a night owl.