Are you an Early Bird or a Night Owl? The Study suggests: it’s written in Your Genes!



Whether you belong to the early birds or the night owls, you cannot fight the genetics! The recent study suggest that your circadian rhythm depends on the information written in your genes!

It is known for ages that all the living beings which belong the plant and animal world, from a simple phytoplankton to a much complex Homo sapiens, have an internal biological clock which adapts to the 24-hour period of a day. This 24-hour internal biological cycle is known as circadian rhythm and it defines all the species, some of which express different varieties throughout their lives. For example, the human species has individuals who are adapted to either day or night and function much better in either of the mentioned time periods. But is such characteristics simply our preference, or does it depend on something more, like our genes?

In the previous studies, scientists have singled out specific genes which show an unspecified and unusual influence on the circadian rhythm. It is still quite a mystery which parts of our genetic code are responsible for fitting us into the two specific groups of night owls and early birds. Thanks to the research led by the team of David Hinds, a scientist from a biotechnology company based in California U.S.A., it seems that we are one step closer to unravelling the mystery which stands behind circadian rhythm preference. His team has investigated a unique genetic blueprint of 89,283 individuals, searching for the clues which might say more about the genetic circadian rhythm background.

The results of the study on the genetic blueprints were later compared to the web survey which included the exact same individuals, asking them about their morning or evening preference. The study, which was published in the Nature Communications, has clearly stated a link between individuals who stated that they were the morning persons, and the research gene variants. The early birds were less likely linked to the insomnia problems and have shown that they rarely need more than eight straight hours of clear sleep per each night. These individuals were less prone to the depression, unlike the night owls who consisted of 56% of the respondents.

Another discovery related to the study has suggested that, if we were to take effects of sex and age into the account, the morning people had a much lower and healthier body-mass index (BMI). Even though these correlations might be useful for the further research, researches have stated that none of these necessarily implied the relationship between a cause and the effect. In addition, researchers haven’t discovered a strong genetic link with some of the common sleep disorders, like apnea, sweating while slumbering or insomnia.

The mechanism which controls the circadian rhythm in humans is located in the neurons present in the brain part called suprachiasmatic nuclei, which is found in the hypothalamus. The circadian rhythm is also essential in the jetlag adaptation, when a person experiences certain disorders which consider the uncontrolled wakefulness or sleepiness. The jetlag usually occurs when a person changes many time zones during a plane flight, when the overall circadian rhythm suffers a sudden change. However, the circadian rhythm quickly adapts to the new changes and maintains a normal rhythm further on.

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