Scientists have made a discovery that, at first glance, seems pretty creepy: a gene variant that predicts the time of day we're most likely to die. Researchers looked at the sleeping patterns of 65-year-olds, and found that those with the more common variant of a single nucleotide near the "Period 1" gene tended to wake up earlier than those with the less common variant. The early-risers also tended to die, on average, just before 11am, while the late-risers tended to die just before 6pm, the Daily Mail reports.
Researchers hope the findings, which were an accidental byproduct of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's research, will help to determine when patients should be monitored most closely and when they should take medication. "The internal 'biological clock' regulates many aspects of human biology and behavior," says the lead author of the study. "It also influences the timing of acute medical events like stroke and heart attack."