Circadian gene variants influence sleep and the sleep electroencephalogram in humans

Anne Marie Chang, Andrew C. Bjonnes, Daniel Aeschbach, Orfeu M. Buxton, Joshua J. Gooley, Clare Anderson, Eliza Van Reen, Sean W. Cain, Charles A. Czeisler, Jeanne F. Duffy, Steven W. Lockley, Steven A. Shea, Frank A.J.L. Scheer, Richa Saxena

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The sleep electroencephalogram (EEG) is highly heritable in humans and yet little is known about the genetic basis of inter-individual differences in sleep architecture. The aim of this study was to identify associations between candidate circadian gene variants and the polysomnogram, recorded under highly controlled laboratory conditions during a baseline, overnight, 8 h sleep opportunity. A candidate gene approach was employed to analyze single-nucleotide polymorphisms from five circadian-related genes in a two-phase analysis of 84 healthy young adults (28 F; 23.21 ± 2.97 years) of European ancestry. A common variant in Period2 (PER2) was associated with 20 min less slow-wave sleep (SWS) in carriers of the minor allele than in noncarriers, representing a 22% reduction in SWS duration. Moreover, spectral analysis in a subset of participants (n = 37) showed the same PER2 polymorphism was associated with reduced EEG power density in the low delta range (0.25–1.0 Hz) during non-REM sleep and lower slow-wave activity (0.75–4.5 Hz) in the early part of the sleep episode. These results indicate the involvement of PER2 in the homeostatic process of sleep. Additionally, a rare variant in Melatonin Receptor 1B was associated with longer REM sleep latency, with minor allele carriers exhibiting an average of 65 min (87%) longer latency from sleep onset to REM sleep, compared to noncarriers. These findings suggest that circadian-related genes can modulate sleep architecture and the sleep EEG, including specific parameters previously implicated in the homeostatic regulation of sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)561-573
Number of pages13
JournalChronobiology International
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 27 2016

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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