Massive genetic study from 23andMe suggests there might be a ‘morning person’ gene

Morning person gene discovered by DNA analytics company 23andMe
Anna Bizoń/123RF.com
You may identify as a morning person or a night owl, but there’s a chance that your waking schedule is actually dictated by genetics, not personal choice. Genetic analytics company 23andMe released a study that suggests there are DNA properties that boost the human tendency to be a morning person.

The 23andMe study, which was recently published in Nature Communications, has identified 15 genetic markers that are directly correlated with whether or not you’re a morning person. Researchers worked with data from more than 89,000 participants around the world, which is a testament to the global appeal of DNA testing through companies like 23andMe. Participants used at-home DNA kits to collect saliva samples, and the 23andMe researchers cross-referenced specific DNA markers with each individual’s personal information.

Apparently, women and people over the age of 60 are most likely to be happy early risers. The DNA study also showed that real morning people are less likely to suffer from depression and insomnia, and usually need less than 8 hours of sleep per night. Participants with morning person DNA are also usually slimmer according to the study, although 23AndMe admits that doesn’t mean waking up early will help you lose weight.

While the correlation isn’t necessarily a direct one, the study’s findings will help genetics companies like 23andMe get support for more scientific testing. If there is some connection between the DNA markers that make morning people and lower risk for depression, for example, that may position 23andMe to perform pharmaceutical research.

In the past, DNA analytics companies have gotten their fair share of criticism, and 23andMe in particular has had to jump through some regulatory hoops in order to conduct its business testing kits. But studies like this one help validate the company’s mission. These broad genetic studies with such massive sample sizes wouldn’t be possible without companies like 23andMe, and the genetic database the company is gathering could very well lead to some major discoveries down the road.

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