Science Identifies “Night Owl” Gene

1Why you Can’t Sleep

An international team of scientists led by the Rockefeller University has discovered that a variant of the human gene CRY1 (cryptochrome circadian clock 1) slows the internal biological clock, which dictates rhythmic behavior such as sleep/wake cycles. The study was published in the April 6 issue of the journal Cell.

In the study, carriers of the ‘night owl’ variant experienced nighttime sleep delays of 2-2.5 hours compared to non-carriers.

” Carriers of the mutation have longer days than the planet gives them, so they are essentially playing catch-up for their entire lives,” said lead co-author Dr. Alina Patke, a researcher at the Rockefeller University.

Night owls are often diagnosed at sleep clinics with delayed sleep phase disorder (DSPD).

This study is the first to implicate a gene mutation in the development of DSPD, which affects up to 10% of the public.