TribLIVE

| USWorld


 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Study: Sleepless nights can alter gene activity

About The Tribune-Review
The Tribune-Review can be reached via e-mail or at 412-321-6460.
Contact Us | Video | Photo Reprints

Daily Photo Galleries


By Bloomberg News

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, 8:18 p.m.

Just a week of inadequate sleep can alter the activity of hundreds of genes, which may help scientists explain how wakeful nights can lead to ailments such as diabetes, obesity and heart disease.

Blood samples taken from patients revealed genetic changes that, with further research, may help answer why sleepless nights are so harmful to health, according to the study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. While not all of the altered genes have known functions, some are involved in metabolism and stress response.

More than one-third of Americans sleep less than seven hours a night, affecting their ability to concentrate, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. When people don't get enough sleep, have poor-quality rest, or sleep at the wrong times of day, they are at a higher risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes and depression, according to the National Institutes of Health.

“These pathways are ones investigators can pursue,” said Louis Ptacek, a neurologist at the University of California, San Francisco, who wasn't affiliated with the research. “These genes are interesting, why is the rhythm dampened?”

Most adults need seven hours to nine hours of rest each night.

In the study, 26 participants spent a week sleeping less than 6 hours each night and had their blood drawn for samples. They then were kept busy for 40 hours and allowed to recover. The next week, they were allowed to sleep as many as 10 hours a night, and their blood was drawn again. The scientists used RNA extracted from patients' blood to measure the effect on genes.

Changes were seen in more than 700 genes. In addition, about 374 of the 1,855 genes that ordinarily peaked and waned during the day also had their functions altered. Among the genes affected were those known to be involved with circadian rhythms, stress, how the body regulates itself while it sleeps, and metabolism.

It's not clear how many of those changes were specifically because of lack of sleep, or to the stress caused by a lack of sleep, Ptacek said. A next step might be to compare the responses of people with chronic stress with those who are sleep deprived, he said.

 

 
 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Nation

  1. Court upholds EPA emissions restrictions
  2. US Airways’ pornographic tweet won’t cost anyone a job
  3. Denver wife killed 12 minutes into 911 call, sparking inquiry
  4. Obama, House Republicans trade accusations in thwarting immigration reform
  5. 1986 Warhol self-portraits up for sale
  6. Country Music Museum links old, new
  7. Census director defends changes, denies questions altered to inflate Obamacare success
  8. Android systems running 4.1.1 softward carry Heartbleed bug
  9. Recovery expert believes wreckage of missing plane located
  10. AC/DC not disbanding, lead singer Brian Johnson says
  11. New York Police Department commissioner disarms post-9/11 intel program
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.