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Night Owl Genes

April 13, 2017

Some night owls may have a mutation that lengthens their circadian clock.

Transcript

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BOB HIRSHON (host):

A night owl gene. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you have trouble getting to sleep at a reasonable hour it could be that you’ve got a slow internal clock. In the journal Cell, Rockefeller University geneticist Alina Patke and her colleagues report that some people carry a gene mutation that sets their internal clocks for days 26 hours long, instead of 24 hours. She says that as a result, bedtime always comes before they’re ready for  it.

ALINA PATKE (The Rockefeller University):

And we also found that people who didn’t have the luxury of going to be late and getting up late, their sleep was fragmented. And a lot of them took extended naps during the day for example.

HIRSHON:

She says the mutation isn’t responsible for all night owls. And even if you do have it, avoiding bright lights at night and seeking them out in the morning can help you sleep on a more regular schedule. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

Note: The researchers can be contacted regarding opportunities for participation in follow-up sleep studies at patkea@rockefeller.edu and young@rockefeller.edu

Story by Bob Hirshon

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