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Overlapping genetic influences have been implicated in diurnal preference and subjective sleep quality. Our overall aim was to examine overlapping concurrent and longitudinal genetic and environmental effects on diurnal preference and sleep quality over ~5 years. Behavioral genetic analyses were performed on data from the longitudinal British G1219 study of young adult twins and nontwin siblings. A total of 1556 twins and siblings provided data on diurnal preference (Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire) and sleep quality (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index) at time 1 (mean age = 20.30 years, SD = 1.76; 62% female), and 862 participated at time 2 (mean age = 25.30 years, SD = 1.81; 66% female). Preference for eveningness was associated with poorer sleep quality at both time points (r = 0.25 [95% confidence intervals {CIs} = 0.20-0.30] and r = 0.21 [CI = 0.15-0.28]). There was substantial overlap in the genetic influences on diurnal preference and sleep quality individually, across time (genetic correlations [rAs]: 0.64 [95% CI = 0.59-0.67] and 0.48 [95% CI = 0.42-.053]). There were moderate genetic correlations between diurnal preference and sleep quality concurrently and longitudinally (rAs = 0.29-0.60). Nonshared environmental overlap was substantially smaller for all cross-phenotype associations (nonshared environmental correlations (rEs) = -0.02 to 0.08). All concurrent and longitudinal associations within and between phenotypes were largely accounted for by genetic factors (explaining between 60% and 100% of the associations). All shared environmental effects were nonsignificant. Nonshared environmental influences played a smaller role on the associations between phenotypes (explaining between -0.06% and 40% of the associations). These results suggest that to some extent, similar genes contribute to the stability of diurnal preference and sleep quality throughout young adulthood but also that different genes play a part over this relatively short time frame. While there was evidence of genetic overlap between phenotypes concurrently and longitudinally, the possible emergence of new genetic factors (or decline of previously associated factors) suggests that molecular genetic studies focusing on young adults should consider more tightly specified age groups, given that genetic effects may be time specific.

Original publication




Journal article


J biol rhythms

Publication Date





375 - 386


chronotype, diurnal preference, genetic, longitudinal, sleep quality, twins, Adolescent, Adult, Circadian Rhythm, Female, Gene-Environment Interaction, Genetic Background, Humans, Longitudinal Studies, Phenotype, Siblings, Sleep, Surveys and Questionnaires, Twins, Young Adult