Thank your ancestors if you're an early riser, say scientists
A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:
If you're like your favorite MORNING EDITION host, which is, of course, Michel Martin, you might be an early riser.
MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:
Or A Martínez. And if you come by it naturally, scientists say it could have something to do with your prehistoric ancestors.
TONY CAPRA: The Neanderthal DNA consistently increased people's probability of waking up earlier in the morning.
MARTÍNEZ: Biology professor Tony Capra and his colleagues at the University of California in San Francisco are just out with the results of a study that compared DNA from modern humans and Neanderthals. Their objective was to see how genomes from prehistoric ancestors could explain modern-day behavior, like waking up early.
CAPRA: We found that lots of the genes that control how the clocks that our bodies use to keep track of whether it's daytime and nighttime and when to wake up - we found lots of differences in how those genes were turned on and off in the Neanderthals. And that analysis suggested that there were substantial differences in these circadian clocks.
MARTIN: But Capra says it's not all about the gene pool.
CAPRA: So whether or not you wake up early in the morning is a combination of all sorts of factors. Some of them are genetic. Some of them are environmental. Some of them are cultural.
MARTÍNEZ: But Neanderthal DNA could still give you an edge.
CAPRA: It's not so much that it's beneficial to wake up early in the morning. It's that it's beneficial to have a fast-running clock that can quickly adapt to changing light, dark throughout the year. And then a side effect of that just happens to be that those individuals wake up earlier in the morning.
MARTIN: OK. I'm just going to have to keep setting my alarm - just saying.
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