Daytime Napping May Be in Your Genes

MONDAY, February 15, 2021 (HealthDay News) – If you enjoy taking an afternoon nap, your genes could explain your love of daytime naps, researchers say.

For their study, investigators analyzed data from UK Biobank, which contains genetic information from nearly 453,000 people who were asked how often they nap during the day.

The genome-wide association study identified 123 regions of the human genome associated with daytime napping. It is known that many genes close to or at the level of these regions play a role in sleep.

A subset of participants wore activity monitors that provided data on daytime inactivity, which may be an indicator of napping. These data suggest that participants’ self-reported information about the nap was accurate, the researchers said.

“It gave an extra layer of confidence that what we found is real and not an artifact,” said study co-author Hassan Saeed Dashti, of the Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. .

The researchers also replicated their findings in an analysis of genetic data from more than 541,000 people collected by consumer genetic testing company 23andMe.

The results show “that the daytime nap is biologically motivated, and not just an environmental or behavioral choice,” Dashti said in a press release from the hospital.

Several genetic variants linked to napping are associated with signaling by a neuropeptide called orexin, which plays a role in arousal, according to study lead author Iyas Daghlas, a medical student at Harvard Medical School.

“This pathway is known to be involved in rare sleep disorders like narcolepsy, but our results show that smaller disturbances in the pathway may explain why some people nap more than others,” Daghlas said.

Some of these genetic variants are also linked to risk factors for heart health, such as a large waistline and high blood pressure. But more research on those links is needed, according to the report published on Feb.10 in the journal. Nature communications.

Researchers have also identified at least three possible factors associated with daytime napping: some people need more sleep than others; people who wake up early may need to catch up on their sleep with a nap; and daytime naps can compensate for poor sleep the night before.

According to co-lead author Marta Garaulet, from the Department of Physiology at the University of Murcia, Spain, “future work may help develop personalized recommendations for the nap.”

More information

The Sleep Foundation has more on naps.

SOURCE: Massachusetts General Hospital, press release, February 10, 2021

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