Sleep Rhythms. It’s Genetic.

BY: CLAIRE KIM

Ring. Ring. It’s 1 am.

Time to go to bed? or Time to wake up?

Both answers work, it just depends on the type of person you are. And no, it’s not about being a night or morning person, it’s about your genetic code.

In a new study in the journal Sleep by researchers in San Francisco, Salt Lake City, and Madison, researchers analyzed 2,400 patients with sleeping difficulties. From the research, they learned that some patients had an unrecognized familial form of advanced sleep phase, which scientists describe as a kind of permanent jet lag that runs through the bloodline.

Based on these observations, researchers have come to the conclusion that genetics do play a role in sleep patterns as those whose families who maintained an early-riser lifestyle or a night-owl lifestyle often showcased the same behaviors in their offspring.

For the advanced sleep phase, in particular, this condition is influenced by a specific mutated gene that tends to dominate other surrounding genes in the strand. Though not fully specified as to which gene scientists are referring to, the most important part of this process is the discovery of a potential gene that may, in fact, be the answer to the conspiracy on whether genes actually have an influence on sleep characteristics.

To combat extreme sleep schedules — projected usually by elders in their late 60’s –, scientists have only one solution: to adjust. Just as how passengers have to deal with jet lag after a long 16-hour plane ride, the process of overcoming this sleep distortion takes a lot of commitment and energy on one’s part to endure. However, for those who struggle with moderate sleep deficiencies, there is a broader range of solutions that can be taken into consideration.

  1. Avoid using electronic devices late at night as blue light from the screens are harsh to the eyes and senses
  2. Exercise to relieve stress and anxiety that may be inhibiting proper sleep
  3. Take melatonin when falling sleep is a major struggle and a quick solution is needed

Though partially influenced by one’s genetic makeup, I believe certain sleep patterns have the potential to recover if steps are considered cautiously. Yes, sleep rhythms are indeed created at the beat of our bloodlines, but don’t let this fact drain you of any hope of recovery. Insomnia and heavy eye bags can be beaten!

 

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