Are you a morning person or a night person? Are you already buzzing at 6:00 a.m., or do you hit your energy peak later in the day or even well after midnight?
A new finding shows the reason for this may go far beyond personal preference, and in fact, may be linked to genetics.
Researchers from the department of genetics at the University of Leicester published a study earlier this month in Frontiers in Neurology that found different fruit flies emerged from their pupal case, or "woke up," at different times of the day. The study authors then found they could replicate the behavior of the late risers through selective breeding, IFLScience reported, indicating a link between sleep behaviors and genetics.
Because fruit flies have often been used in genetics as a proxy for human beings, sharing 75% of disease-causing genes with humans, the study's authors argue the findings indicate human sleep patterns, whether one is an "early bird" or a "night owl," go beyond preferences and are governed by genetics factors.
"The impact of this preference on health and behavior is well documented, but the molecular basis is largely unknown," Eran Tauber, one of the study's coauthors, told IFLScience.
In other words, while some questions remain, it seems it's not entirely your fault if you can't get up early in the morning, but it might be your parents'.
Why it matters. Sleep deprivation can cause a host of horrifying consequences, including a higher risk of motor accidents, increased risk of fatal ailments, like stroke and heart attack, loss of sex drive and premature aging.
Given the risks of not getting enough sleep, our somewhat limited understanding of the science behind it may be disconcerting. According to the Sleep Foundation, most adults need between seven and nine hours of sleep every night. However, it's very natural for some people to stay up and wake up late ("night owls") while others ("morning larks") are early to bed and early to rise. While everyone has their own natural cycle that can vary tremendously from person to person, the science behind what causes that is not well understood.
The University of Leicester study shines new light on the reasons for these cycles and, if true, would indicate late risers were not merely "delayed" early risers but in fact working under a completely different operating principle, based at least partially on uncontrollable genetic circumstances.
Or, as the study succinctly concludes, "All roads lead to Rome, but travel time may vary."