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Gene Sleep ‘ABCC9′ Discovered By LMU Scientists

11/30/2011 07:32 AM ET

Gene Sleep - A collaborative European study led by LMU researchers has shown that ABCC9, a known gene factor in heart disease and diabetes, also influences the duration of sleep in humans.

This function is evolutionarily conserved as knock-out of the gene reduces the duration of nocturnal sleep in fruitflies.

Legend has it that Napoleon never needed more than four hours of sleep at a stretch. Others only feel fully rested after 10 hours between the sheets. Clearly, individuals vary with respect to how much sleep they need.

Indeed, sleep duration is influenced by many factors.

Apart from seasonal and other variables, age and sex play a role, as does one’s sleep-wake cycle or chronotype, i.e. whether one is a lark (early to bed, early to rise) or the converse, an owl.

An international team of researchers led by LMU chronobiologists Professor Till Roenneberg and Dr. Karla Allebrandt has now identified the first genetic variant that has a significant effect on sleep duration and is found frequently in the general population.

The variant was discovered in the course of a so-called genome-wide association study, in which the researchers scanned individual genomes for variations that were correlated with sleep patterns.

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