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Overslept Again? New Research Lets You Blame It On 'Good Sleeper' Genes

We already knew that stress, alcohol, coffee and mental disorders could affect the quality and duration of our sleep. Research now suggests that genes play a role as well. European scientists recently isolated a gene that may affect a person's ni

Sweet dreams, good excuse  (aramolara)
Sweet dreams, good excuse (aramolara)


Britain's "Iron Lady," Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, needed just four hours of sleep per night, or so they say. Albert Einstein, on the other hand, enjoyed lengthy 11-hour snoozes before returning each morning to rewriting the laws of physics. Was Thatcher a masochist? Einstein just lazy?

Personal preference, it turns out, may not have had much to do with it? A European study published in the scientific journal Molecular Psychiatry has just shown that a particular form of a gene —called ABCC9 — increases the average length of an individual's nightly sleep by half an hour.

Researchers from the University of Edinburgh in Scotland and from the Ludwig-Maximilians University in Munich, Germany, questioned about 10,000 people from all around Europe on their sleeping habits. They were particularly curious to know how long people stay in bed on days when they don't have any pressing reason to wake up early.

By comparing the duration of sleep with the results of a genetic analysis from a blood sample, the scientists found out that sleepers carrying a particular form of the ABCC9 gene typically spent more than eight hours in bed. People without the gene averaged just 7.5 hours. The researchers hope their discovery will lead the way towards more physiologically adapted sleep aids.

This is not the first time scientists have linked specific genes to different sleeping patterns. Tests involving rats and mice, for example, have shown how gene makeup can determine whether the animal is a "morning" or "evening" creature.

Researchers have also linked sleeping patterns to certain health problems. People who sleep fewer than six hours per day are more likely to have diabetes, hypercholesterolemia or cardiovascular disorders.

Read the original article in French by Martine Perez

Photo – aramolara

*Newsbites are digest items, not direct translations

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Life On "Mars": With The Teams Simulating Space Missions Under A Dome

A niche research community plays out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another planet.

Photo of a person in a space suit walking toward the ​Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

At the Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah

Sarah Scoles

In November 2022, Tara Sweeney’s plane landed on Thwaites Glacier, a 74,000-square-mile mass of frozen water in West Antarctica. She arrived with an international research team to study the glacier’s geology and ice fabric, and how its ice melt might contribute to sea level rise. But while near Earth’s southernmost point, Sweeney kept thinking about the moon.

“It felt every bit of what I think it will feel like being a space explorer,” said Sweeney, a former Air Force officer who’s now working on a doctorate in lunar geology at the University of Texas at El Paso. “You have all of these resources, and you get to be the one to go out and do the exploring and do the science. And that was really spectacular.”

That similarity is why space scientists study the physiology and psychology of people living in Antarctic and other remote outposts: For around 25 years, people have played out what existence might be like on, or en route to, another world. Polar explorers are, in a way, analogous to astronauts who land on alien planets. And while Sweeney wasn’t technically on an “analog astronaut” mission — her primary objective being the geological exploration of Earth — her days played out much the same as a space explorer’s might.

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