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Early Risers and Night Owls Have Structural Brain Differences

October 10, 2013

There might be more to the claim that certain people are unable to function properly early in the morning after all! In fact German scientists have recently discovered that there are actual structural brain differences between early risers and people who naturally find themselves staying up late. Theses researches believe these differences could help unlock the reasons behind why certain people who love to stay up late are more prone to depression and can suffer from a form of chronic sleepiness that is akin to very bad jet lag. 

These sleep researchers from Aachen University in Germany now believe that approximately 10% of the worlds population could be catagorised as what we call 'morning people,' and around 20% will find themselves able to stay up late without any effort. The other 70% of the worlds population have a relatively normal body clock and do not fall into either category.  

The scientists undertaking the research have built on previous data that indicates people who naturally tend to stay up late sleep less well and are more tired during the day. Because of this they often suffer from what can only be described as a type of self-induced jet lag.

Did you know? Separate studies have shown that many people who generally stay up late  consume more alcohol and tobacco than people with better adjusted body clocks

How The Study Was Conducted:

Jessica Rosenberg from Aachen University, used diffusion tensor imaging to scan the brains of 20 intermediate chronotypes as well as 16 early-birds and 23 night owls. These subjects were found to have a reduction in the integrity of the white matter in areas of the human brain associated with depression which coincided with the findings that they were night owls. She went on to tell New Scientist: 

“We think this could be caused by the fact that late chronotypes suffer from this permanent jet lag.”

The research team believes that it could be possible that the gene variants responsible for pushing body clocks towards nocturnal living could affect the physical structure of the brain. 

You can read the final report on the New Scientist Website here.

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