Trouble Falling Asleep? Research Says It Could Be Your CLOCK Gene
If you struggle to get a good night’s sleep, you aren’t alone. Surveys suggest that insomnia affects about 30% of adults.
There are a lot of things that contribute to poor sleep, but according to recent research, one of the biggest—and most overlooked—causes of sleep problems is your genetics.
You have several genes that determine how well you sleep. One of the most important is your CLOCK gene. The name is appropriate—CLOCK controls your body’s daily sleep-wake cycle and plays a central role in regulating your sleep patterns.
Here’s a look at how the CLOCK gene works, how different variants affect your sleep cycle, and how you can take advantage of your genetics to get deeper, more restorative sleep.
What Is the CLOCK Gene?
CLOCK is one of the most important genes that regulates your sleep cycle. It controls the length and stability of your circadian rhythm—your body’s natural internal clock.
Your circadian rhythm keeps your body running on a daily cycle. It sets the schedule of melatonin, your body’s main sleep hormone, which makes you sleepy in the evening and keeps you asleep throughout the night. Your circadian rhythm also controls when you release other hormones like testosterone and estrogen, your metabolism, when you repair cells, and many other baseline bodily functions.
According to recent research, your CLOCK gene determines both the length of your circadian rhythm and how stable it is over time. As a result, CLOCK plays a fundamental role in your nightly sleep cycle.
How Your CLOCK Gene Affects Your Sleep
The dominant variant of the CLOCK gene sets a standard, consistent circadian rhythm, entraining your body to fall asleep at roughly the same time every night and sleep throughout the night without issues.
However, there are several CLOCK variants that can interfere with your sleep, metabolism, mood, and more.
Research shows that a CLOCK variant called 3111C makes you more likely to stay up late and be slow to get up in the morning.
Consistent, restful sleep is essential for metabolism and maintaining a healthy weight. A 2007 study found a strong correlation between CLOCK variants and weight gain in adults, and the researchers concluded that sleep disruption was a likely contributor.
Another CLOCK variant called 3111T/C was linked to increased insomnia and greater likelihood of depression.
If you struggle to get up in the morning, can’t seem to fall asleep, or wake up often in the middle of the night, you may have a CLOCK variant that makes it more difficult for you to get consistent, restorative sleep.
Understand Your Genetics to Improve Your Sleep
Certain clock variants can make it more difficult to get a full night’s rest.
The good news is that there’s plenty you can do to improve your sleep. A 2021 review noted that CLOCK genes respond to lifestyle changes and environmental cues, which means with the right changes, you can shift your CLOCK gene to a more optimal schedule.
For example, light exposure shifts CLOCK expression, and if you have the 3111C CLOCK variant, avoiding light at night and exposing yourself to light early in the morning may help standardize your sleep.
If you have the 3111T/C variant, you may want to take high-dose vitamin D. It encourages melatonin production at certain times of day, and could counter the tendency toward insomnia and low mood that a 3111T/C CLOCK mutation can cause.
Different changes will work for different people, and CLOCK is only one of more than a dozen genes that influence your sleep—which is why it’s so essential to understand your genetics. When you know what’s going on with your DNA, you can figure out exactly what lifestyle shifts will help you look and feel your best.
That’s where we can help. Our DNA 360 Report gives you a full rundown of genes that affect your mood, sleep, dietary needs, fitness and weight loss, longevity and more. We walk you through your results step by step, helping you understand how your genetics affect each of these areas of your life. Best of all, your DNA 360 Report includes personalized supplement and lifestyle recommendations that will work best for you, based on your unique DNA.
If you want to improve your sleep, body, mind, and more, consider DNA 360 Report. It’s one of the fastest, easiest shortcuts to becoming a stronger version of yourself.
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