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Early risers may have genetic advantage

Those annoying types who can get up and go early in the morning? It may be down to a genetic variation.

Image: FWStudio via Shutterstock

SOME OF THE most successful people in the world are noted early risers. It turns out that some people able to get up and go early in the morning might have a genetic advantage helping them out.

New and unprecedented research from Andrew Lim at Harvard has found a genetic variation, found in almost the entire population, that can push people’s average waking times up to an hour earlier or later.

The research, which was conducted with Beth Deaconess Chief of Neurology Dr Cliff Saper, started with an experiment looking for genetic signs of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Then, they started comparing waking and sleeping times with people’s genetic data.

“They soon discovered a single nucleotide near a gene called “Period 1” that varied between two groups that differed in their wake-sleep behavior. At this particular site in the genome, 60 percent of individuals have the nucleotide base adenine (A) and 40 percent have the nucleotide base guanine (G):

This particular genotype affects the sleep-wake pattern of virtually everyone walking around, and it is a fairly profound effect so that the people who have the A-A genotype wake up about an hour earlier than the people who have the G-G genotype, and the A-Gs wake up almost exactly in the middle,’ explains Saper.

It’s all part of a biological clock so powerful that it may actually determine the time of day you’re likely to die. When looking back at subject’s times of death, the researchers found that “…this same genotype predicted six hours of the variation in the time of death: those with the AA or AG genotype died just before 11am, like most of the population, but those with the GG genotype on average died at just before 6pm.

That hour a day might not sound like much, but it looks to be a powerful genetic rhythm that pushes you a certain direction your whole life.

Read more about the research here.

- Max Nisen

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