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Perfect scientific alibi undone by science

The discovery that their genes make some people late risers yields the perfect excuse.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 14, 2019, 09.01 AM IST
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Researchers in the US have concluded that genes are responsible for people sorting into late-night owls, who struggle to wake up in the morning, and larks, who go to bed early and rise and shine along with the morning sun.
Scientists are helpful people. No, not just in the sense that they explain the mysteries of the universe and come up with stuff that permits inventors to make useful or amusing things, but also in the sense that they help you make the perfect excuse: I couldn’t help it, it’s my genes. Researchers in the US have concluded that genes are responsible for people sorting into late-night owls, who struggle to wake up in the morning, and larks, who go to bed early and rise and shine along with the morning sun. Their research centred on 2,400 people who turned up at sleep clinics, and so cannot be dismissed lightly. Does this mean that the office supervisor raring to glower at the perpetual Johnnies-come-late and raise Cain have been disarmed by guileless science? Not really, science comes to his rescue.

There is genetics, but there is also epigenetics. Certain genetic tendencies are triggered or not triggered, depending on external factors. Baby mice born to introverted mothers who do not lick them much grow up introverted. But when the same baby mice are fostered with mothers who lick their babies a lot, they frolic to sociable adulthood, and lick their own babies with vim. Late sleepers can alter their genetic urge, in short. Whether this involves extensive licking by a loved one is something the sleepless alone can find out.
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