Every spring, the Daylight Saving Time shift robs people of an hour of sleep - and a new study shows that DNA plays a role in how much the "spring forward" time change affects individuals.
People whose genetic profile makes them more likely to be "early birds" the rest of the year can adjust to the time change in a few days, the study shows. But those who tend to be "night owls" could take more than a week to get back on track with sleep schedule, according to new data published in Scientific Reports by a team from the University of Michigan.
Margit Burmeister, Ph.D., the U-M neuroscientist and geneticist who is the paper's senior and corresponding author, says the study gives one more strong reason for abolishing Daylight Saving Time.
"It's already known that DST has effects on rates of heart attacks, motor vehicle accidents, and other incidents, but what we know about these impacts mostly comes from looking for associations in large data pools after the fact," she says. "These data from direct monitoring and genetic testing allows us to directly see the effect, and to see the differences between people with different circadian rhythm tendencies that are influenced by both genes and environment. To put it plainly, DST makes everything worse for no good reason."
Co-author Srijan Sen, M.D., Ph.D. who leads the Intern Health Study and directs the Frances and Kenneth Eisenberg and Family Depression Center at U-M, continues to lead other studies of how each year's crop of interns at over 100 hospitals react to the stresses of their training. The interns in the newly published study, like all interns, are in general chronically sleep-deprived because of the number of hours they need to be on duty or preparing for duty.
"This study is a demonstration of how we much we vary in our response to even relatively minor challenges to our daily routines, like DST," he said. "Discovering the mechanisms underlying this variation can help us understand our individual strengths and vulnerabilities better."
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Here is the link to the paper.