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The Genetics of Sleep

Researchers have found that certain genes may influence how well people sleep at night, the Guardian reports.

A pair of studies out last week from two different research groups homed in on CRY1 and FABP7 as having roles in sleep regulation. In Cell, Rockefeller University-led researchers report that a variation in the circadian clock gene CRY1 gene is linked to delayed sleep phase disorder, a condition in which people's internal clocks run a little differently.

"Carriers of the mutation have longer days than the planet gives them, so they are essentially playing catch-up for their entire lives," first author Alina Patke from Rockefeller says in a statement.

Similarly, researchers from Washington State University and their colleagues report in Science Advances that the fatty-acid binding protein gene FABP7 is needed for normal sleep. Mice and flies without it, they found, had fragmented sleep, as did a cohort of 29 Japanese men with a FABP7 variant.

These studies, the Guardian adds, "suggest there may be new avenues for researchers to explore so that they can learn how sleep works and why animals need it so badly."