Horizon: The Secret Life of Your Bodyclock… review!

by Lynn Connolly

Horizon body clock

Horizon has always been – or maybe after last night’s foray into bodyclock mechanisms – a reliably intelligent and interesting watch. Whatever caused that magic has apparently done a Houdini, if this offering was anything to go by.

I was expecting a relatively detailed explanation about how all our internal thingummys and gadgets work but instead, got quite an alarming number of statements of the glaringly obvious. For example, we learned that teenagers don’t like getting up – which is brand new information. We learned that our bodies are “a bit sluggish in the early morning”, which prompted me to utter “No s**t Shelock”.

And the really useful revelation that between 8 and 10pm we “may be feeling a little tired and starting to think about going to bed” came right out of the blue. Who’da thunked eh?

Another of the show’s science dudes suggested that “going against” the intricate clock of your body would be akin to “pushing a string uphill”. Any mother of any newborn anywhere will heartily concur there. That’s what their lives are like for about three years!

And I noticed that last night’s show had adopted that annoying American habit of saying, “And still to come”… You know the type of thing; for instances, on the show When Good Pets Go Bad, you might hear a voice over – who sounds like GI Joe’s Grandpa – say, “Coming up next, what happens when good reindeer go bad, as Santa found out when he tried mate with one of them!”

Horizon’s equivalent exciting promises included, “Why dinner time could be deadly, and why your grandmother shouldn’t wear sunglasses.”

Well I can tell you the answer to those things right now, and it’s nothing to do with bodyclocks… dinner time can be deadly if you let a man cook anything that was frozen immediately prior to his cooking it and grannies should never wear shades because they will put them in a handbag and/or on their heads then get a migraine in the sun while looking for them. Plus, they choose ones similar to those you can purchase on Blackpool prom… very uncool.

However, that said, there were many interesting tidbits in the show. For instance, you’re more likely to have a heart attack in the morning because your blood vessels are at their “most inflexible” at that time of day and blood is at its stickiest.

One of the most interesting facts for me was that French researchers reckon that chemotherapy drugs are far more effective, and far less debilitating, if they’re timed to harmonise with the patient’s body clock… however, working out each patient’s body clock would, I imagine, be a logistical struggle.

Another interesting fact came from a Dutch doctor who claimed to have discovered that Alzheimer’s patients could show significant improvement if exposed to bright light in the daytime and by ensuring they sleep well and long. Mind you, surely that would be true of pretty much anyone, not just the very unfortunate Alzheimer’s sufferers?

The main thing lacking with this documentary was the ‘why’s’. Ok, we know the ‘what’s’, but nobody went into great detail about those why’s and I found that a tad irritating.

The voiceover claimed that Horizon’s boffins had assembled other boffins who were/are “the world’s leading chrono-biologists” who were meant to explain how our body clocks actually work, but as I said, there was simply not enough of those explanations.

So what was the mythical secret to this body clock malarkey that rules our lives? Wait for it, it’s startling… the various emotional and physical states we experience throughout the day and night are due to the genes and chemicals inherently built into our physiology…

And there was me thinking that maybe we get tired around 8pm because if we work, we and then get home at 6ish, cook dinner, find and iron stuff to wear tomorrow and possibly down a glass of wine or two while doing the kids homework for them, that could explain the sudden weariness by 8pm onwards.

Likewise, if we don’t sleep, we tend to get p’d off with anyone who so much as looks oddly at us and I also thought my teenager stayed in bed all day because he’s on his X Box until 5am and so is “difficult to rouse” in the morning.

Guess I was wrong – it’s the damn genes and chemicals. Well in that case, cheers parents… ‘preciate it. And thanks too to my pituitary gland – and whatever other grim little hormone exuding organ I possess – for giving me chemicals that simply scream “roll on weekend when I can have a lie in and please let there be sun today instead of incessant rain!”

All in all, not the most informative or even marginally interesting Horizon ever but at least now when you go into the office tomorrow – being all sluggish bloodwise – you can justifiably scream at first person who annoys you and blame your out of sync body clock.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.