Researchers at the Swedish Uppsala University and Karolinska Institute have discovered that one night of missed sleep can biologically alter our genes. The findings have been published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Lead author of the study Jonathan Cedernaes says, "Previous research has shown that our metabolism is negatively affected by sleep loss, and sleep loss has been linked to an increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes. Since ablation of clock genes in animals can cause these disease states, our current results indicate that changes of our clock genes may be linked to such negative effects caused by sleep loss."

The study involved testing 15 normal-weight healthy men. In the first session, they slept normally for eight hours, and in the second they were kept awake for the same period of time. Two tissues samples were taken from the subjects, one from the layer of superficial fat on the stomach, and another from thigh muscle tissue. 

The epigenetics of the samples was altered after the night of disturbed sleep. This means the subjects DNA was altered chemically. The results were different for the muscular and fat tissues. This suggests that not only do different tissue samples function on different clocks, but that sleep has a much larger role in switching genes on and off than we previously thought.

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