Finding Genius Podcast
A Molecular Mechanism for Mastering Sleep—Ying-Hui Fu, PhD—UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences
Apr 17, 2020 · 24 min
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Professor of neurology at the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, Ying-Hui Fu, joins the show to discuss human sleep behavior. On this episode, you’ll learn the following:

  • How genetics could hold the key to understanding how some people not only survive, but thrive off of just a few hours of sleep per night (and how an understanding of the molecular mechanism at play could allow us all to have more efficient sleep)
  • How genes play an important role in human sleep behavior
  • Whether or not it’s actually “better” to be early to bed and early to rise, rather than late to bed and late to rise

Ying-Hui Fu, PhD, discusses the focus of the research being conducted in her lab at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences in San Francisco, CA. Her work centers on two areas: the circadian rhythm, and sleep duration. For well over two decades now, Fu has studied and conducted research in this field and found that genetics and genomics play an important role in determining sleep behavior, including whether a person is a so-called night owl or early bird, and how many hours of sleep per night a person needs in order to achieve optimal health and function.  

“I’m most interested in understanding…how to regulate sleep efficiency, because if we can increase it for everyone, then the incidences of all kinds of disease will drop significantly…and to me that’s much better than trying to find cures for one disease at a time,” says Fu. She continues by explaining the importance of understanding and harnessing the power of sleep efficiency in modern society through an examination of the relationship between genetic information and sleep regulation.  

Fu discusses a number of interesting topics, including the way in which the benefits of therapies and medicine can be maximized through administration at times that correlate with certain times during an individual’s circadian rhythm, the increasing demand for shift workers and how detrimental night shift work can be for those who are early risers, the way in which sleep schedules change throughout different stages of life (e.g. teenage years versus old age), how a set of molecular reactions related to signals integral to the circadian rhythm regulates more than half of the genes in our bodies, how to measure sleep efficiency, and so much more.

Tune in and check out http://scienceofsleep.org/ and http://neugenes.org/ for more.

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