Have you ever met someone a little too perky for your taste in the mornings? Or maybe, your neighbors stay up late every night and you can’t understand how they do it. Researchers have attempted to find an answer to these questions by discovering the relationship between genes and our sleep cycles.
With the help of nearly 700,000 participants in the UKBiobank and the 23andMe genetics testing company, researchers were able to find a connection among 351 variations in our genes that trace back to our relationship with our alarm clock each morning. They took the research one step further by having 90,000 people wear monitors to track their sleep and activity, which gave a more accurate account of whether the genotypes really had an effect on their behaviors.
The study showed that people generally fall within three categories. First, the “larks” or morning people, “owls” who stay up late, and the rest who fall somewhere in between.
Essentially, people with the most “morning’’ genes went to bed at least 25 minutes before the others. Self-identified morning people also reported a greater sense of overall well-being and were less likely to report mental health issues. These morning people may be onto something.
The next step in the research process is to learn more about whether having a lifestyle that aligns with your sleep genes could improve mental and physical health. Curiosity has also surrounded whether you simply are a morning or night person, or if changes can be made to fit the lifestyle you desire without adverse health effects.
So, the next time you grumble about having to get up early, just blame your DNA.