Sleeping habits are down to genetics
Being a night owl or an early bird is down to genetics, according to a new study.
The term ‘social jet lag’ is when individuals are left yawning and feeling sleepy after being forced to rise early, whether it’s for work or a holiday. Scientists have been analysing the sensation for some time now, trying to understand why it affects some people more than others, and after looking at high school students’ sleeping habits it seems they’ve discovered the reason.
The students were split into two categories after the research; night owls and early risers, according to how they’d describe themselves. Even when the youngsters reported having the same amount of hours in bed there were some big differences in behaviour, emotions and cognitive function between the two groups.
Night owls who had more shut eye than early risers still complained of more daytime sleepiness, which researchers believe is down to a person’s chronotype – their body clock. This genetic wiring in the body means people are inclined to sleep at different hours during the day or night, and that those who struggle to wake up first thing may actually suffer because their genetics are programmed to work better in the evenings.
The findings, published in medical journal Pediatrics, have triggered sleep experts to call for flexible work hours rather than the normal nine to five shift, and insist days shouldn’t start earlier than 8.30am. According to the researchers, being productive is more down to when we sleep rather than how much we sleep we get.
Earlier this month (Nov16), another study reported that teenagers who stay up late and sleep in or feel sluggish during the day may struggle to reason and contain their emotions more than those who have less rest a night.
“In other words, it’s not how long you sleep that has the biggest impact on self-regulation, but when you sleep in relation to the body’s natural circadian rhythms and how impaired you are by sleepiness,” study author Dr. Judith Owens, said of the results.