DNA And Lack of Sleep

You desperately want to be healthy and thrive.  Lack of sleep can cause your DNA to be altered and this may lead to disease.

The University of Helsinki, the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, and the National Institute for Health and Welfare got together in a study to compare those with sufficient sleep and those with insufficient sleep.

They extracted DNA from the blood leukocytes of the men in the study so they could determine what the methylation levels are. There is a new field of study in genetics known as epigenetics which basically studies what causes a gene on the DNA to express itself.  For example, many women with a gene positive for breast cancer never get breast cancer.  Why?  That answer may be found in the epigenetic mechanisms on the DNA strand.  DNA methylation is an epigenetic mechanism.  It impacts the gene expression and, therefore it impacts how the cells function.

Their study did not find a single DNA methylation element which was significantly different in those who lacked sleep and those who did not lack sleep.  But when they analyzed molecular networks, they found that those subjects who lacked sleep had changes in this DNA methylation.  But it was in those in the elements that regulated gene expression which were part of the nervous system development pathway.  This is serious stuff just due to lack of sleep.  Are these changes permanent or can they be restored to their original state?  More research is needed.

But in the meantime, it would be important to become one of the subjects who did NOT lack sleep.  One of the biggest things that cause a lack of sleep is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).  And this condition is treatable!  If you or someone you know snores and has a lot of daytime sleepiness, have them get tested for OSA.  The test is simple and can be done in your own home privately by yourself.