Early to bed and early to rise may be genetically determined as per the findings of a new study conducted by 23andMe and San Jose State University researchers. We’re either early birds or night owls and this preference may not be that much of a choice as we’d like to believe.
According to the results of the study, it could be genes linked to our circadian rhythm that ‘make the choice’ for us. 23andMe, the consumer genetics company and the San Jose State University spearheaded the effort for the first genome-wide association study of this kind. David Hind with 23andMe led the joint research team. Several gene variations were analyzed to determine whether they are linked with being either an early bird or a night owl.
The study yielded impressive results. More than 135,000 participants took part in the first phase of the study. After filling two online surveys to determine their preferences, 75.5 percent of the participants were split in two categories: the morning persons and the night owls. The rest of the participants gave inconclusive or conflicting answers. In addition, the participants had to submit DNA samples for the genome-wide association study.
Following genome analysis, the researchers found that there are 15 genes which can be linked to being either a night owl or an early bird. Seven of the 15 genes are found very close to those linked to circadian rhythms. According to the research team, there are also several genes which are located close to those linked to detecting light. The team concluded that since the bundle of genes serving different purposes are so close to each other, it may be that their overarching goal is to inform our bodies as to the waking time.
Thus, early to bed and early to rise may be genetically determined. The study yielded a host of other exciting findings. 48.4 percent of the women participating in the study self-identified with being morning persons. Only 39.7 percent of men self-identified as early birds.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, adults over 60 years of age declared they are morning persons (63.1 percent). Only 24.2 percent of adults aged maximum 30 declared their preference as early bird.
As for the night owls, there might some unpleasant connections with their circadian rhythm preference. As a night owl, your twice as likely as an early bird to suffer from insomnia. Two thirds of the self-identified night owls were more likely to be diagnosed with sleep apnea. On the other hand, morning persons were not as prone as night owls to sweating during sleep, clocking more than eight hours of sleep or sleep walk.
Hinds stated that while we often think that a preference is built throughout life and our experiences, when it comes to our circadian rhythm, biology is fairly important. The study features in the Nature Communications journal.
Photo Credits: Flickr