Science Says Your DNA Determines If You Are an Early Bird or Late Riser

Nashia Baker
·3 min read

Science Says Your DNA Determines If You Are an Early Bird or Late Riser

Other factors that influence sleep patterns are stress and the environment, according to researchers.

Whether you are a self-proclaimed early bird or consider yourself a late riser, there is actually a scientific reason behind your sleep schedule, reports the Daily Mail. Researchers from Oxford University, the Netherlands, and the United States found that your genes partially decide whether you prefer to get up at dawn or sleep in, which they noted in their Sleep Medicine Reviews published study. In fact, they found that 46 percent of your sleep pattern is connected to your DNA.

The team took on an ambitious 36 studies that highlighted the quality and length of participants' sleep. Test subjects included 400 sets of adult twins, selected in order to determine if rest patterns had any genetic affiliation. Their findings? They noted that 46 percent of your sleep trends are tied to genes—but 44 percent of the quality of your sleep is influenced by DNA, too. Other factors, including lifestyle or your specific environment (like stress or pollution) can impact rest. "People shouldn't think poor-quality sleep is just because of our genes and nothing can be done," said Alice Gregory, a professor and the author of Nodding Off ($17.79, amazon.com). "Lots of things can help, such as getting a consistent routine, avoiding caffeine as the day progresses, and getting exposure to light during the day."

Related: Science Says a Colder Bedroom Is the Secret to Better Sleep

Another reason for changes in your ability to get those hours in? A full moon. Researchers' published study in Science Advances examined residents in rural and urban communities, and found that all went to bed later than they typically would—and slept for shorter periods of time—at the end of the 29.5-day lunar cycle. This cycle occurs when the moon is harder to see (a new moon) and then becomes full and bright (a full moon); after this, the lunar routine continues. The study's findings? Everyone recorded the least amount of sleep, via wrist monitors, on the nights just before a full moon, according to the Daily Mail. "We see a clear lunar modulation of sleep, with sleep decreasing and a later onset of sleep in the days preceding a full moon," Horacio de la Iglesia, the study author at the University of Washington, explained. "Although the effect is more robust in communities without access to electricity, the effect is present in communities with electricity, including undergraduates at the University of Washington."

There are still more questions to explore on this subject, however. "In urban settings with high amounts of light pollution, you may not know what the moon phase is unless you go outside or look out the window. Future research should focus on: Is it acting through our innate circadian clock? Or other signals that affect the timing of sleep? There is a lot to understand about this effect," Leandro Casiraghi, the lead author and a postdoctoral researcher at University of Washington's Department of Biology, said. "In general, artificial light disrupts our innate circadian clocks in specific ways—it makes us go to sleep later in the evening, it makes us sleep less," de la Iglesia added. "Those are the same patterns we observed here with the phases of the moon."