Sleep is an essential human function but its regulation is poorly understood. Using accelerometer data from 85,670 UK Biobank participants, we perform a genome-wide association study of 8 derived sleep traits representing sleep quality, quantity and timing, and validate our findings in 5,819 individuals. We identify 47 genetic associations at P < 5 × 10−8, of which 20 reach a stricter threshold of P < 8 × 10−10. These include 26 novel associations with measures of sleep quality and 10 with nocturnal sleep duration. The majority of identified variants associate with a single sleep trait, except for variants previously associated with restless legs syndrome. For sleep duration we identify a missense variant (p.Tyr727Cys) in PDE11A as the likely causal variant. As a group, sleep quality loci are enriched for serotonin processing genes. Although accelerometer-derived measures of sleep are imperfect and may be affected by restless legs syndrome, these findings provide new biological insights into sleep compared to previous efforts based on self-report sleep measures.

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Journal Nature Communications
Jones, S, van Hees, V.T., Mazzotti, D.R., Marques-Vidal, P, Sabia, S., van der Spek, A, … Wood, A.R. (2019). Genetic studies of accelerometer-based sleep measures yield new insights into human sleep behaviour. Nature Communications, 10. doi:10.1038/s41467-019-09576-1