Sleep is one of the most important and vital parts of our lives. Without sleep, our cognitive and physiological functions would slowly deteriorate, leaving us unable to perform even the most basic tasks. This is why we spend a third of our lives asleep. As part of a study ran by a privately owned genetics company, DNA is responsible for your sleeping habits.
The privately owned 23andMe
United States based 23andMe is a privately owned genetics company dealing in helping people find more about their heritage. The company provides the clients with a DIY DNA test – well, more like a saliva cotton swab – which is then sent back to the company and analyzed.
You can find out a lot of information with the help of the company’s DNA test, including stuff like what percentage of your DNA comes from what part of the world, what unknown relatives you might have, and even an extended family tree.
But one of the most important features offered by the company isn’t even customer-oriented. Since you do send the company your DNA, they make sure that no information falls into the wrong hands. But they do, however, use it themselves, for informational purposes.
More exactly, the company uses the genetic information they possess to perform irrelevant, yet highly interesting DNA tests, like to find out what percentage of the population is composed of larks, and how many night owls there are among us.
Sleep is in your genes
According to information uncovered by the company, the way you sleep best is defined by your genes. There are apparently multiple genes that help determine whether you prefer rising and shining early in the morning, or if you’d rather go to sleep when the chickens wake up.
The company looked at the genetic material of 89,283 people, determining the genes that were connected to their sleeping pattern of preference. As it turns out, 15 different loci are associated with our circadian rhythms.
Genes investigated by the researchers included loci such as narcolepsy’s HCRTR2, as well as others associated with a wide array of sleep factors – FBXL3, associated with an extended circadian rhythm, and even VIP, associated with prolonged REM sleep.
It turns out that 56% of people consider themselves night owls, while most adults over 60, as well as most women thought of themselves as morning people. Morning people were also found to be less prone to bouts of depression, as well as to suffer from insomnia. They were also associated with a lower body mass index.
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