Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


How well you sleep may depend on your genes

04 December 2014, 12:15

How much sleep you get each night may depend to some extent on your genes, a new study suggests.

"Sleep patterns are influenced by genetic differences," said study co-author Dr. Daniel Gottlieb, a sleep researcher and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. "This study is one of the first to begin identifying these genetic differences, and will hopefully help us better understand the causes of sleep disorders and their relation to other important diseases."

The findings suggest that certain genetic variations make a difference of a few minutes' sleep a night. But the research may ultimately point to a wider picture of how certain genes affect conditions such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and diabetes, said Gottlieb.

Scientists believe several aspects of sleep - including when and how long people sleep - are inherited to some extent, Gottlieb said. Sleep duration, meanwhile, is connected to conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and depression, he said.

It's possible that a gene variation causes sleep problems, which then cause, say, high blood pressure, Gottlieb said. But it's also possible that the gene itself directly affects both, since "most genes serve multiple functions," he added.

Read: Can sleep apnoea affect your sex life?

Two genetic variations identified

In the new study, researchers examined the genes and sleep habits of 47,180 people of European descent and those of 4,771 African-Americans. They identified two genetic variations tied to sleep duration, one of which was linked to about three minutes of extra sleep per night.

Then they reviewed previous studies for information about those genetic variations.

Simply put, "we identified an area of DNA that appears to influence how long an individual sleeps," Gottlieb said. Those with one of the gene variations not only slept slightly longer but also had lower levels of attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and lower blood sugar levels, the study found.

The other DNA area identified -- this one linked to shorter sleep -- previously has been associated with psychiatric problems, including risk for depression and schizophrenia, the researchers said.

Jim Horne, of the Sleep Research Centre at Loughborough University in England, cautioned against making too much out of the study's findings. "The effect of these genes on sleep is tiny, accounting for no more than a few minutes of a total night's sleep," he said.

Also Read: If you sleep more you'll be off sick less

"There are numerous mechanisms, maybe hundreds, in the brain affecting our sleep one way or another, all of which will be coded by one or more genes. Those looked at here are just a very few," Horne said.

Also, the study only looked at a rough measure of time spent sleeping, not whether it was high-quality sleep, Horne added. In addition, he said, there are far more powerful non-genetic influences on our sleep.

Still, Horne said the study findings are interesting and come from reputable scientists.

For now, the research won't have any immediate impact on the prevention, diagnosis or treatment of sleep disorders, Gottlieb said. But "a long-term goal of this research is improved understanding of sleep disorders, including early identification of those at risk for sleep disorders in order to prevent their occurrence," he said.

The study appeared Dec. 2 in the journal Molecular Psychiatry

- Health24


Intersex explained

26 October 2016, 08:38

Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...