Staying up all night can mutate genes

August 10, 2015
Joshua Hong Webb School  12th grade

Joshua Hong
Webb School
12th grade

We all know what sleeping is and how sleeping affects our body, right?

Aside from the common negative effects of the lack thereof, such as sluggishness or unproductivity, scientists have found that having just a single all-nighter could mutate a person’s genes.

This research on sleep began because of the recent study on the effects of extreme amounts of exercise on genes. Jonathan Cedernaes, the lead researcher of this study says that in our bodies, there are biological mechanisms known as clock genes that regulate the on-off function of our metabolism system, which is based on a timed schedule. He says when we “pull an all-nighter,” we are provoking circadian misalignment, which throws off a person’s internal circadian rhythm. This misalignment is what causes increased rates of obesity and diabetes.

In order to gain evidence, Cedernaes and his team set up an experiment among a group of men with similar build, sleep patterns, and food intake. During this study, the group of men did similar activities throughout the day and half of them went to sleep at a regular time while the others stayed awake.

Cedernaes, after examining the results, found that there was a huge change in the genes of the men who did not sleep; Cedernaes group found “impaired glucose tolerance.” Cedernaes says that this effect is frightening because it is easily caused, but it is very difficult to reverse its negative outcomes.


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