If you are reading this at night, you may also have this genetic mutation, that keep you up at night while you want to be a morning person. This is due to a defective gene, that makes you stay up until late, and struggle to wake up in the morning.
The good news is you are not just lazy, at least on the waking up part, it’s just your clock that is genetically programmed to run between 2 and 2.5 hours slower than the rest of the world, due to a mutation in your “body clock gene”, named CRY1.
“Carriers of the mutation have longer days than the planet gives them, so they are essentially playing catch-up for their entire lives”, told the researcher Alina Patke from The Rockefeller University in New York.
Off course we are talking about true night owls, and not just those lazy few who stay up late just to stay on social media or play games. We are talking of those few who really can’t sleep, even if they haven’t got any electrical equipment near, and will still fall asleep and wake up late.
Normally, the real people who can’t get up in the morning are medically diagnosed with DSPD (Delayed Sleep Phase Disorder), and it’s estimated that around 10 percent of the world’s population suffers from the condition.
The people who suffer from the condition, not only feel tired, but also suffer of multiple health issues because their bodies are always trying to get on the same timeline of the rest of the society. It has also been linked to anxiety, depression, cardiovascular diseases and diabetes.
“It’s as if these people have perpetual jet lag, moving eastward every day”, said one of the researchers, Michael Young. “In the morning, they’re not ready for the next day to arrive”.
It’s not just the fact that these people’s body clocks are later than other people’s, their clocks actually run around 2.5 hours slower than the average population.
While usually, the human body clock runs at around 24 hours, which means that all body functions like digestion and so run smoothly and perfectly coordinated with the standard Earth day, while people with the CRY1 mutation, simply need more time according to the new research.
The team analyzed the sleep patterns of six Turkish families, where 39 of the participants had DSPD and suffered from the gene mutation, the other 31 suffered of neither.
The participants which suffered from the condition, had delayed sleep and most of them had fractured and irregular sleep patterns. While for the participants who didn’t suffer from the condition the midpoint of sleep was around 4am, the other’s midpoint was between 6 and 8am.
On the bright side, our body clock, including CRY1, is affected by external factors like light exposure, so as long as these people stick to a controlled routine, they should be able to keep normal sleep hours.
“It’s not inconceivable that one might develop drugs in the future based on this mechanism”, added the researcher.
So, until a better solution, we just have to wait and keep out of the light.