Researchers discovered what might determine people to be night owls. In a study published in the journal Cell, they discovered a gene which is responsible with the sleep-wake cycles of a person. A certain mutation in this gene might determine a person to be a night owl.
Gene CRY1 might suffer a certain mutation which determines people to go to sleep two or two and a half hours later than those who do not display the mutation. This is not at their advantage, as they do not get enough rest, get to live longer days than others, and they have an unpleasant feeling when they wake up.
A mutation is responsible for irregular sleep patterns
Researchers looked at how this gene mutation might influence patients with delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD). This condition usually affects 10 percent of those people who experience sleep problems. These people fall asleep with difficulty, and their sleep pattern usually consists of long naps which do not allow them to feel well-rested.
Also, not getting enough sleep might lead to other problems. They might be the cause of anxiety, depression, heart and cardiovascular diseases. Adults should get between seven and nine hours of sleep per night. Such conditions might appear if a person does get less than seven hours of sleep repeatedly.
However, not all people with DSPD have this mutation in the CRY1 gene. Researchers discovered this mutation when looking at the way in which sleep disorders affect the genome. While it is not present in all people with sleep disorders, it still affects a large part of the population.
Can we combat the effects of the mutation?
The CRY1 gene plays an important role in regulating the circadian clock. More precisely, it works as an inhibitor. A mutation would make the gene no longer function as it should, and it becomes overly active and makes the circadian clock work abnormally.
When comparing mutation carriers with people with healthy genes, researchers noticed how the first ones fall asleep later and have chaotic sleep patterns. However, they might regulate their circadian clocks themselves. These are sensitive to the environment, so a longer exposure to natural bright light or a little exercise might help them fall asleep easier.
Therefore, it is not impossible to regulate a sleep cycle. With a little effort and intensive care, even the mutation carriers might achieve healthy sleep patterns.
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