Healthy sleepers who carry a specific gene variant are more likely to have disrupted sleep, according to University of Pennsylvania study published in the October 26, 2010 issue of Neurology®, the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology.

After a series of nights with restricted sleep, 37 healthy adults who carry a specific gene variant found it harder to cope than 92 healthy non carriers, in terms of increased sleepiness and fatigue and more fragmented sleep. Since the gene is closely related to narcolepsy, in which some of these symptoms are observed (e.g., increased sleepiness and more fragmented sleep), it may be the gene that is causing these responses.

“If the study is replicated, this research may justify recommendations for behavioral interventions, like naps, or pharmacological countermeasures, such as a dose of caffeine, to gene variant carriers when their sleep is restricted,” said the study’s lead author, Namni Goel, PhD, assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Perelman School of Medicine.

For more information, please see the American Academy of Neurology’s press release.

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