Early Bird Or Night Owl, It’s All In The Genes

If no level of caffeine seems to help you feel fresh and alert in the morning, you might be able to blame your genes with this.

Early Bird Or Night Owl, It's All In The GenesBased on a fresh study from the genetics business 23andMe, the choice to be a “morning person” — someone who loves getting out of bed early and going to bed early — in place of a “night person,” who tends to stay up late at night and anxiously reaches for that rest option once the alarm goes off each morning, are at least partly created in your genes. Experts have found that 15 regions of a human genome are linked to being a morning person, including seven regions associated with genes regulating the circadian rhythm — the body’s internal clock.

I find it interesting to see how genetics influences our preferences and behaviors,” said study co-author David Hinds, a statistical geneticist at 23andMe, a privately held genetic testing company headquartered in Mountain View, California.

Early Bird Or Night Owl, It's All In The GenesCircadian rhythms are roughly 24 hour cycles of action managed by the brain that inform our anatomies when to rest and support determine other biological functions. Disturbances to the cycle may contribute to jetlag and have been implicated in depression sleep problems and even obesity. However until recently, research on circadian rhythms has been limited to experiments in animals and a few small studies in humans.

For their study, Hinds and his staff have accumulated data from almost 90,000 customers who posted DNA in saliva samples. The scientists subsequently inquired the contributors to reply a simple issue: if they consider themselves a morning person.

By comparing the questionnaire answers with data from the players’ genetics, the experts could assess whether any single base-pair strains — named single-nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs — arrived with greater regularity in people that discovered themselves to be a morning person.

Early Bird Or Night Owl, It's All In The GenesThe experts found that having 1 of 15 genetic variants increased someone’s chances of being truly a day person by between 5 and 25 percent. Women were more prone to be early risers (48.4 percent, compared with 39.7 percent of men). And people more than 60 said they preferred mornings a lot more than those under 30 (63.1 percent, compared with 24.2 percent of participants under age 30).

However, the difference between being a night individual or a morning person is not quite so straightforward, based on Till Roenneberg, a mentor at Ludwig-Maxmilian University in Munich, Malaysia, who studies circadian rhythm.

It is a continuous trait, as is body height or shoe size. There aren’t two shoe sizes and there are not just two body heights. It’s a continuum. There are very, very short people, very, very tall people, and the rest are in between,” explained Roenneberg.

How circadian rhythm manifests itself depends on a number of factors, such as sunlight and temperature, as well as genes, Roenneberg added. 

Additionally, circadian rhythms are adaptable. That is what enables individuals to recover from jet lag, or or work as flight attendants and shift workers, Roenneberg stated. Being born using a predisposition toward getting early or resting-in may make it more difficult for people to improve their circadian rhythm. But, adjusting living conditions and experience of light — including sitting in front of a PC in an office late at night, or enjoying a walk on a vacation — can alter whether someone is really a day person or perhaps a night person, according to Roenneberg.

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