Discover: Sleep Genes

Sleep can have a profound effect on a dancer’s physical performance, recovery and motor skill memory. During sleep, your muscles and ligaments restore and rebuild, and your brain methodically masters all the new choreography and techniques learnt during the day. To get the maximum benefits from your sleep, use your DNA Sleep education to set an unbreakable sleep routine that’s just right for your body.

We test for six genetic markers that have the best DNA research linked to sleep.

Your DNA reveals insights into:

  •       Sleep Duration
  •       Chronotype (whether you’re a morning person or evening person)
  •       Sleep Fragmentation
  •       Social Jetlag
  •       Sleep Deprivation
  •       Movement in Sleep
  •       Sleep and Weight Management
  •       Sleep and Blood Sugar Levels

By understanding your DNA, you can tweak your schedule to not only get the most out of your sleep, but also the most out of your dance life!

Sleep Duration

The CLOCK Gene And Sleep Duration

Sleep duration refers to the total amount of sleep obtained within a 24 hour period. The amount of sleep you get is impacted by a complex interplay between behavioral, environmental and social factors, and individual differences in genetic makeup. It’s recommended that adults up to the age of 65 require seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and older adults between seven and eight hours. Shorter and longer sleep durations can be associated with negative effects on health and wellbeing. While generally an individual needs about seven to nine hours of proper sleep, a dancer as an athlete who trains intensively should aim at nine to ten hours of sleep per night to ensure adequate recovery. While training and rehearsal schedule is often tight, it’s very important that dancers aim at achieving the recommended amount of sleep.

The protein encoded by the CLOCK gene plays a central role in the regulation of the circadian rhythm, which is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep-wake cycle in a 24 hour period (sometimes referred to as a body clock). When this gene doesn’t function properly, the circadian rhythm is disrupted. It is thought that the CLOCK gene can also significantly affect longevity.

Additional Reference


The PER3 Gene And Morning vs. Evening People

Your chronotype is a behavioral manifestation of your circadian rhythm that is largely influenced by genetics, environmental and age-related factors, and dictates whether you’re a morning person or evening person. It represents your propensity for being active, alert and your need for sleep and rest. While you cannot actively change it, your chronotype can change as the body and brain age. Knowing whether you’re a morning person or evening person can be useful to identify the optimal time of the day for important activities in your day, like your dance training.

The PER3 gene, or period gene 3, is part of the circadian clock complex. It affects your chronotype by influencing many internal systems in the body. Variations in this gene can affect the length and the quality of your sleep and even your mood. Specifically, the rs228697 genetic variation tested causes a change in the properties of the PER3 protein which in turn seems to have an effect on whether a person is more of an evening type.

Sleep Fragmentation

The ADORA2A Gene And Sleep Fragmentation

Sleep fragmentation is when your sleep is disrupted. Genetics plays a role in this, together with many other factors such as lifestyle, diet, health conditions and your environment. The type of sleep fragmentation referred to in this test is called “wakefulness after sleep onset” (WASO), which is best described as when you wake up during the middle of the night and struggle to fall back to sleep.

A chemical called adenosine helps a person feel sleepy. ADORA2A holds the key-lock mechanism for adenosine to initiate the process of falling asleep, so it plays an important role in controlling your body clock. ADORA2A also controls how caffeine is received in the brain. Genetic variations in the ADORA2A, such as the rs3761422 analyzed here, are associated with various types of sleep disturbances that can be dependent or independent of caffeine consumption.

Social Jetlag

The BDNF Gene And Social Jetlag

Social jetlag happens when there is a difference in your sleep and wake times between Monday to Friday (the work/school week) and weekends (when we’re not confined to the usual work/school schedule). If you like to sleep in on Saturday and Sunday to try and compensate for any lack of sleep from your busy Monday to Friday schedule, you put your body into a jetlagged state.

The Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) gene plays an important role in the brain. It stimulates the growth of new brain cells, supports learning, memory and is also important for a healthy aging of the brain. Under stress, the levels of BDNF decrease. When you get into the deeper phase of sleep, BDNF is released in your body and levels increase. Good quality sleep ensures enough BDNF is released and this will help improve cognitive function and performance.

Sleep Deprivation

The BDNF Gene And Sleep Deprivation

Sleep deprivation not only affects your ability to memorize and master new dance techniques and routines, but when you are sleep-deprived it becomes difficult for the cells in your brain to communicate effectively, making it hard to think and concentrate the next day. This will potentially have an effect on your performance.

Sleep deprivation can refer to completely missing a night’s sleep or chronically having shorter and/or more fragmented sleep. Each person copes with sleep deprivation differently, depending on several factors, like age, gender and also genetics. Sleep deprivation can also affect your immunity, your weight management and other aspects of your health.

The Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) gene plays an important role in the brain. It stimulates the growth of new brain cells, supports learning, memory and is also important for a healthy aging of the brain. Under stress, the levels of BDNF decrease. When you get into the deeper phase of sleep, BDNF is released in your body and levels increase. Good quality sleep ensures enough BDNF is released and this will help improve cognitive function and performance.

Movement In Sleep

The MEIS Gene And Movement In Sleep

While it’s normal for your legs or arms to move to a certain extent when you’re asleep in the first half of the night, some people can experience excessive movement while they sleep. These are repetitive movements characterized by twitching, flexing, and jerking of the legs and arms. It’s sometimes referred to as Periodic Leg Movement during Sleep (PLMS). The movements typically occur every 20 to 40 seconds and may last for minutes or hours throughout the night. People with PLMS don’t know their limbs are moving and are unable to control or stop the movements. They often wake up tired and irritable. The cause is still unknown but often this phenomenon is observed together with other sleep disorders.

The MEIS gene plays a very important role in the development of the embryo. This gene has also been shown to influence sleep traits such as insomnia and PLMS. The SNP we analyze has a strong correlation in particular with PLMS, suggesting that people who carry the genetic variation may be at higher risk of this type of sleep disturbance.

Sleep and Weight Management

The CLOCK  Gene And Weight Management

For a long time now research has shown sleep and weight are linked. You may have heard that staying up late, sleeping in every day and eating after 8:00 pm leads to weight gain as well as eating close to bed time; or that the less people sleep, the more they are likely to put on weight. This is more true for some individuals than others as it depends on several factors, including genetics. One of the genes that influence the relationship between sleep habits and weight gain is CLOCK.

The protein encoded by the CLOCK gene plays a central role in the regulation of circadian rhythms. The circadian clock is an internal timer that can assist in pacing our daily routine. It is thought that the Clock protein can also significantly affect longevity. When this gene doesn’t function properly, the internal body timer is disrupted.

Sleep and Healthy Blood Sugar Levels

The MTNR1B Gene And Healthy Blood Sugar

Dancers need stable blood sugar (glucose) levels for a steady supply of energy while dancing. While numerous studies have suggested that eating healthy foods can help people limit the risk of glucose intolerance – a characteristic of diabetes     recent evidence has accumulated about the importance to control not just what and how much you eat, but also when you eat your daily meals. Timing of dinner and breakfast is particularly important and is often linked to sleep habits. Going to sleep late and/or getting up early is influences when you have the last and first meal of the day. Whether this timing has a strong influence on your sugar levels depends on several factors, including genetics.

This gene produces the melatonin receptor 1B, which as the name suggests, plays a crucial role in the action of melatonin in the body. Melatonin is a hormone that regulates the sleep–wake cycle and a key player in the synchrony of our biological clock.  

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