Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sleep is as Easy as ABCC9

The gene ABCC9 has been found to be linked to sleep patterns in humans. A study was conducted by LMU in seven European countries that correlated subjects’ sleep patterns to their genomes. On average, people who  one version of ABCC9 needed significantly less sleep than those who had a different version of ABCC9. This gene may explain why some people need more sleep than others. For example, Napoleon was said to have only needed four hours of sleep whereas Einstein needed eleven hours of sleep a night. The ABCC9 gene codes for a protein (SUR2) which regulates the potassium channel in the cell membrane. The ion channel senses the energy metabolism in the cell. If one variation of the gene was better at assessing how much energy the body needed, it could cause the body to sleep longer to recharge that energy lost.

Experiments were done on fruit flies to test the effect of ABCC9 on their sleep patterns. Scientists from Leicester University blocked ABCC9 from working in the nervous system of the fruit flies, and their sleep cycle was shortened as a result. ABCC9 also is involved in a variety of tissues in the body like the pancreas, skeletal muscles, heart, and the brain. If scientists could understand the connection between the genetic influences of sleep duration and health, they could use that information to try and improve overall health by improving sleep.

This is a summary of an article from Science Daily titled, "The ABCC9 of Sleep: A Genetic Factor Regulates How Long We Sleep."


  1. this is a very interesting article which explains why some people need more sleep than others.

  2. I really liked this article and thought it was very interesting that there is a gene that determines how much sleep we need. This explains why I always need to sleep so many hours!

  3. I find it interesting that this gene also affects tissues in the pancreas, skeletal muscles, and heart in addition to those in the brain. Also, the idea of improving health by improving sleep is great because so many health problems are caused by a lack of sleep, as stated in the corresponding link.