How do you sleep at night? Are you a night owl? Or an early bird? The answer may be in your genetics.
Science has already taught us about circadian rhythm, also known as the body’s internal clock, which plays a major role in not only our sleeping patterns, but also in our appetite, metabolism and other bodily functions.
Researches are looking into pinpointing how our sleep patterns are affected by isolating the genes and mutations. Recently it was found that there is a link between sleep phase disorder and a mutation in the CRY1 gene.
It was found that those who have one or two copies of the mutated gene showed a shift of more than two hours in their sleep pattern. That is, their circadian cycle was delayed and they would natural sleep at 2-3am and want to naturally wake after 10am.
However, it should be noted that not all “night owls” have this gene as sleep is also highly affected by lifestyle patterns – work and social lives can affect how late you stay up at night.
Human genetic, much like sleep, is complex. We still do not know why we sleep, just that we need to do it. And that if we don’t, we are more susceptible to a number of health conditions.
The Earth follows cycles and fluctuation in light and temperature – something that our bodies are sensitive to. Essentially, our internal clocks tracks the sun – for example our metabolism kicks in for the morning, our temperature drops for the evening.
Thus, tampering with your body clock – or having a genetic mutation – can throw your whole body out of order.
If sleep problems are something that affects you, it might be worth getting tested. This specific genetic mutation can be determined by a spit test, as can other sleep disorders.
So what can you do if you are a night owl living in an early bird world? This research, lead by Michael W. Young, suggests that a strict schedule might be the solution.
Strict meal times, bedtimes and exposure to light can help manipulate a person’s internal clock.
Young even believes controlling one’s sleep can also help with weight management and circadian rhythm plays a role in metabolic processes.
Sleep and appetite are connected. And evolution in technology and modern society has allowed people to tinker with their internal clocks to negatively affect health.
The human body, as Young suggests, is meant to follow a rhythm. Find one and stick to it.