‘Springing forward’ affects early birds less than night owls, U-M study finds

July 21, 2021  //  FOUND IN: News

Every spring, the Daylight Saving Time shift robs people of an hour of sleep — and a new study shows that DNA plays a role in how much the “spring forward” time change affects individuals.

People whose genetic profile makes them more likely to be “early birds” the rest of the year can adjust to the time change in a few days, the study shows. But those who tend to be “night owls” could take more than a week to get back on track with sleep schedule, according to new data published in Scientific Reports by a team from U-M.

The study uses data from continuous sleep tracking of 831 doctors in the first year of post-medical school training when the time shift occurred in spring 2019. All were first-year residents or “interns” in medical parlance, and taking part in the Intern Health Study based at the Michigan Neuroscience Institute.

From the large UK Biobank dataset, the researchers calculated genomic “chronotype” predisposition information, also known as the Objective Sleep Midpoint polygenic score. People with low scores were genomically predisposed to be “early birds” and those with high scores were genomically “night owls.”

The team then applied these genomic scores in the intern sample and focused on the two groups of about 130 physicians each that had the strongest tendencies to be “early birds” and “night owls” based on their scores. The researchers looked at how their sleep patterns changed from the week before DST to the weekend after it.

Click here for details of the new study.

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