Here’s the Genetic Reason Why You Aren’t a Morning Person

Every morning is a battle against your eyelids. But it might not be your fault.

SleepLia Koltyrina /Shutterstock After your first, second, and third cup of coffee in the morning, you’re still just plain lethargic. Even on nights you manage to get your full eight hours of sleep, you aren’t at your sharpest until about noon and you thrive come nighttime. Guess what: you probably aren’t a morning person then, and you can thank your genetics. (Here are some tips for becoming a morning person, if it doesn’t come naturally to you.) 

A team of geneticists from the University of Leicester conducted a study which seems to have pinpointed the DNA difference between morning people and night owls. The research involved analyzing 80 different genes relating to circadian rhythms in fruit flies, ideal test subjects due to their genetic similarity to humans.

The study, which was published in Frontiers of Neurology, found that the fruit flies fell into two distinct groups genetically: so-called “larks,” which are flies that emerge from their pupal case in the morning, and the so-called “owls,” which are flies that emerge from their pupal case in the evening. All fruit flies must exit the pupal case in order to develop into adults and the timing of the emergence is regulated by the fly’s circadian rhythm.

One of the noteworthy findings of the research was that the genetic difference between the larks and the owls was unrelated to the “clock genes” which are typically thought to be responsible for regulating the body’s circadian rhythm. Two large swaths of genetic code in both fly groups are now thought to be responsible for the difference between larks and owls in flies, and, in turn, morning people and night owls in humans.

Eran Tauber, the study’s author, notes in a press release that these genetic differences ultimately shape a fly’s whole life experience.

“Once a gene expression is delayed (in Larks), a completely different cascade of molecular events is carried, similar to the ball in a pinball machine that takes a different route in each run,” Tauber explains. “The endpoint might be similar, but the different molecular routes result in a different journey time.”

To analogize it on the human level, if a morning person and a night owl were both assigned a task to complete on a 16 hour deadline, it may be completed all the same at the end of the day. But in a traditional 9-to-5 setting, the morning person might just have that genetic edge—and, they enjoy these other surprising health advantages, too.

[Source: Mental Floss]

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