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sleep, epigenetics, development

The Science Of Sleep Epigenetics

Written by: Kiara Lipschitz



Time to read 3 min

Keywords: sleep, epigenetics, development

Have you ever wondered how your sleep patterns could be influencing your DNA and, in turn, ageing process?

Sleep epigenetics is a field that explores how our sleep habits can affect our genetic makeup and potentially influence our rate of ageing.

We'll start investigating what sleep means for the human body and what impact it has on us by defining epigenetics and its relevance to human health and ageing.

Then, we'll examine how sleep epigenetics operates in adults, and how it plays a pivotal role in our bodily processes.

We'll also debunk some common misconceptions about genetics and sleep, and highlight the importance of sleep epigenetics in pregnancy. 

1. The Impact of Sleep on Brain Function

Epigenetics explores how our genes are expressed , not by their underlying code, but by chemical modifications that act like dimmer switches.

Sleep epigenetics investigates how sleep patterns influence these modifications, essentially turning genes on or off. This can have a significant impact on how our brains function.

Sleep is incredibly important for the adult brain, as a 2019 study in NCBI proved. It consolidated that sleep deprivation disrupts memory consolidation in adults .

Chronic sleeplessness can also negatively impact your cognitive abilities. Another 2023 review in  NCBI  found adults with poor sleep struggle with attention, learning, and decision-making.

Sleep and mental health seem to be in a two-way street. A 2017 study in The Lancet Psychiatry  suggests sleep disturbances can be both a cause and symptom of conditions like depression and anxiety.

Emerging evidence hints at a link between sleep and neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. A 2020 study in  the NIH  found insufficient sleep disrupts the brain's waste clearance system, potentially accelerating the buildup of harmful proteins linked to these diseases.

sleep, epigenetics, development

2. How Sleep Epigenetics Impacts Daily Performance

We all know the groggy feeling of a sleepless night. But beyond the immediate fatigue, sleep deprivation can have a profound impact on our daily activities.

A 2017 study published in  Science Direct  found that short sleep duration (less than 7 hours) negatively impacts cognitive skills crucial for work performance, including attention, memory, and decision-making. Essentially, sleep deprivation weakens the brain's ability to process information and make sound judgements.

Sleep also plays a role in our social interactions. A 2010 study in  NIH  demonstrated that sleep deprivation can hinder our ability to recognise facial expressions accurately. This can lead to misunderstandings and difficulties navigating social situations.

The link between sleep and mental health is well established. A 2019 study in  The Lancet Psychiatry  found that insufficient sleep increases the risk of developing mental health conditions like depression and anxiety. Conversely, good sleep habits can improve mood and emotional regulation.

3. The Role of Sleep Epigenetics in Pregnancy

In the realm of child development, sleep epigenetics has a profound influence.

Early experiences, particularly during the rapid brain development phase, lead to epigenetic adaptations that dictate the timing and manner of gene expression, thereby shaping  future health, skills, and resilience .

This is why the provision of nurturing experiences for children in their formative years is critical.

Services such as comprehensive healthcare for pregnant women, infants, and toddlers , along with support for new parents and caregivers, can literally alter the chemical environment around a child's genes .

Positive epigenetic signatures, generated by supportive relationships and rich learning experiences , activate genetic potential, underscoring the importance of sleep epigenetics in the earliest stages of life.

sleep, epigenetics, development

4. Testing Your Epigenetic Age

Curious to know if your body's age (biological age) matches your actual age (chronological age)?

Wondering how your lifestyle choices are impacting how long you'll live?

Want to understand which organs are ageing faster than they should be?

The OptimallyMe Biological Age and DNA Methylation Test  can uncover your biological age and provide targeted insights into organs that might be ageing prematurely. It even offers personalised recommendations to help you slow down the ageing process.

This test goes beyond typical genetic assessments by analysing epigenetic DNA methylation patterns using cutting-edge scientific techniques. Based on Horvath's Clock methodology (GrimAge2), it reveals your biological age.

Test vital biomarkers to gain insights into the health ages of your organs, including:

  • Leptin (immune ageing)

  • β-2 microglobulin (brain ageing)

  • GDF (muscle ageing)

  • Cystatin C (kidney ageing)

Discover key data to track and optimise your health over time. The easy, at-home blood test provides results on a personalised, interactive AI dashboard.

The OptimallyMe Biological Age and DNA Methylation Test  offers a revolutionary approach to understanding how your environment and lifestyle choices influence your health and lifespan. By taking this test, you can gain insights into the ageing of your heart, lungs, metabolism, and brain. Armed with this knowledge, you can make informed decisions to optimise your well-being, promote longevity, and even potentially reverse your biological age.

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