Researchers from the University of Utah, Salt Lake City have identified the genetic component of Familial Advanced Sleep-Phase Syndrome (FASPS), the inherited form of Advanced Sleep-Phase Syndrome (ASPS), which affects around one third of the elderly population. People with the rare FASPS, which was discovered in 1999, tend to fall asleep at about 7pm and awake spontaneously at 2am and 4am.

In research published in the online version of Science, Toh et al. examined a large family that suffers from FASPS. The found a single base-pair mutation in a gene called hPer2 in affected individuals. The gene is located at the telomere of chromosome 2q and is homologous to Drosophila and mouse genes that speed up the circadian rhythm when mutated.

Ageing is known to shorten telomeres and it is possible that the ageing process affects the gene's function, according to one of the authors, Louis Ptacek. Dr...

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