Posted on Apr 05, 2019, 5 p.m.
Sleep is an essential biological function associated with good health. While we spend around one third of our lives sleeping, how the biological process is regulated is still not fully understood. Modern day technology has brought about advent of wearable devices in which the technology can help to gather information about the enigmatic process, which is what an international team of researchers set out to do, as published in Nature Communications.
47 links have been found in the genetic code for quality, quantity, and timing of how humans sleep which includes 10 new genetic links with sleep duration and 26 with sleep quality. This genome wide study reviewed data from 85,670 UK Biobank participants, and 5,819 individuals from 3 other studies who wore devices which recorded activity levels; accelerometers were worn continuously for 7 days to provide detailed sleep data.
PDE11A was discovered among other uncovered genomic regions, an uncommon variant of this gene affects how long one sleeps and the quality of sleep. Previously the gene was identified as a possible drug target for treatment of neuropsychiatric disorders associated with mood stability and social behaviors.
Among those with the same hip circumference a higher waist circumference was shown to result in less time sleeping, around 4 seconds less sleep per 1 cm waist increase in a person with the average hip circumference of 100 cm.
Collectively the genetic regions linked to sleep quality were found to be linked to production of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of well being and happiness and is known to plays roles is sleep cycles theorized to help promote deeper more restful sleep.
“...changes in sleep quality, quantity, and timing are strongly associated with human disease as well as psychiatric disorders..” explains Andrew Wood, PhD. “...genetic variants have been identified that influence sleep traits which may provide new insights into the molecular role of sleep in humans… this is part of an emerging body of work that may inform development of new treatments to improve our sleep and overall health...” adds Samuel Jones, PhD of the University of Exeter.
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