23andMe says being a morning person is in your genes

Your DNA might determine when you like to wake up.

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Jon Fingas
February 3rd, 2016
PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou via Getty Images
PhotoAlto/Frederic Cirou via Getty Images

Are you the sort of person who wakes up with the Sun? You might not just have a go-getter attitude to thank for it. The genetics firm 23andMe has published a study which suggests that variances in 15 regions of the human genome (including seven that influence circadian rhythms) affect the likelihood that you're a morning person. No one area instantly flicks the switch, but it adds up -- the more your genes skew a certain way, the more likely you are to think that 6AM is a perfectly reasonable time to hop out of bed.

The data also gives insights into who's likely to have those genes. Most people (56 percent) don't call themselves morning people, but those who had the morning DNA traits tended to be women, or else over 60. That fortunate group was also less likely to need more than 8 hours of sleep, or suffer from conditions like depression and insomnia.

23andMe is quick to acknowledge that this isn't the most comprehensive research. Ultimately, it was matching up the voluntary responses of 90,000 customers with their gene studies. While the team did toss out questionable responses, it can't vouch for the accuracy of everyone's responses. Also, it didn't account for the external factors that might influence answers, such as health, location or the time of year.

If the results hold up, though, they could lead to a big breakthrough in medicine. Doctors would know the most effective time of day to administer treatments, and could suggest more effective daily schedules. That could cause some social chaos (do you really want to get to bed hours before your friends?), but it beats being tired and bleary-eyed.

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