November 26, 2011

Gene that controls sleep found at last!

Everyone knows someone that can get as little as 4 or 5 hours of sleep and be more energized than you would be with 8. Why is it that they can do that and not us? A group of German scientists might have the answer to our question. Named ABCC9, this gene seems to allow you to sleep for significantly shorter periods of time and be just as energized.

To prove that this gene is what differs from a short energizing sleep and a long tedious one, the scientists conducted an experiment on more than 4,000 people that lived across seven European countries. Part of the experiment was filling out a questionnaire about the sleeping habits the people had. The other part? Seeing if they had the correct version of gene ABCC9.

Lo and behold, the people with two copies of the "less sleep" version of ABCC9 slept for a shorter period of time, while people with two copies of the "more sleep" version of ABCC9 slept for much longer.

To test the results they got form the questionnaire, they modified the gene in fruit flies with the help of scientists from the Leichester University in England. The flies also had different sleep cycles now with their new ABCC9 genes, and Till Roenneberg said - one of the study's authors - said that this is means that the same mechanism might work in a wide variety of species. 


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