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Chronobiol Int. 2005;22(6):1041-54.

Heritability of morningness-eveningness and self-report sleep measures in a family-based sample of 521 hutterites.

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Department of Statistics, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Individual variation in the phase and amplitude of human circadian rhythms is well known, but the impact of heritable factors on such variation is less clear. We estimated the narrow-sense heritability for selected circadian and sleep timing, quality, and duration measures among related members of the Hutterites, an endogamous, religious community (n=521 participants). "Morningness-eveningness" (M/E), a stable trait reflecting circadian phase, was evaluated using the Composite Scale (CS). Subjective sleep measures were assessed using the Sleep Timing Questionnaire. Initial analyses reconfirmed the impact of age on M/E. Previously reported correlations between M/E scores and the sleep measures were also noted, demonstrating the construct validity of the questionnaires among the participants. Following corrections for age, gender, and colony of residence, significant narrow-sense heritability was noted for M/E (23%). The heritability for subjective sleep measures (related to timing, duration, and quality) were statistically significant for all but one variable, and varied between 12.4% and 29.4%. Thus, significant heritable influences on human circadian phase and subjective sleep indices can be detected through family-based studies. In view of the impact of circadian malfunction on human health, it may be worthwhile to map genetic factors impacting circadian and sleep variation.

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