The reason some people stay up late at night is out of this world.
Researchers at the Rockefeller University recently discovered a rare genetic mutation that essentially causes its carriers to adopt a sleep pattern that would be more typical for a Martian, NBC News reported. Those with the mutation typically stay up later at night because they’re on a perpetual 24 and a half-hour schedule — much like a day on Mars, which lasts 24 hours and 39 minutes.
“Carriers of the mutation have longer days than the planet gives them, so they are essentially playing catch-up for their entire lives,” head of research Alina Patke told the news outlet.
The mutation causes every cell in a person’s body to run on the wrong time, so carriers both wake up and go to bed later than normal. Researchers described it as “perpetual jet lag,” with carriers of the mutation having a body clock that runs just a bit longer than everyone else’s.
“In the morning, they’re just not ready for the next day to arrive,” said Michael Young, who oversaw the study.
Approximately 1.2 percent of people carry the rare mutation that disrupts the circadian rhythm, or the body’s internal clock. It’s one of several causes of delayed sleep phase disorder, according to the news station.
The circadian rhythm however affects more than just sleep cycles — those with the mutation also have faced issues with body temperature.
Patke said she hopes to continue researching the mutation’s effects.
The initial study included a group of people with the mutation, each of them required to live in an apartment without any outside cues as to what time it is.
Patke described one woman who instead of sleeping eight hours slept in fits and developed a schedule based on a 24 and a half hour day.
“Her internal clock is closer to someone from another planet,” Patke explained