Sleep is still one of life’s mysteries, but scientists do understand some genes and what they mean, so next time you call someone lazy because they sleep- in, you maybe be told it’s the gene!
In 2001, the University of Utah discovered a sleep gene called hPer2 and this gene is found only in people who choose to go to bed at 7 p.m. and wake at 4 a.m.
In 2003, British scientists discovered a gene called Period 3 which regulates a person’s internal clock. The gene is longer in length in for early morning-types, but it is shorter in length for those who prefer to stay up late.
The good news is, changing a sleep pattern can be achieved with careful planning. If someone is wanting to adjust their sleep time by an hour it is recommended that they start 6 days before the necessary start day and change their routine by 10 minutes the first day, 20 minutes the second and so on. For example: dinner 10 minutes earlier the first day and then 20 minutes earlier.
The hormone responsible for controlling sleep and wake cycles is called Melatonin. Very small amounts of melatonin are found in foods such as meats, grains, fruits, and vegetables. Light affects how much melatonin your body naturally produces and natural melatonin levels slowly drop with age, which means some older adults make very small amounts of it or none at all. You can also buy it as a supplement, with your doctor’s expertise.