Lazy people are more likely to be selected to travel to Mars when the time comes, say scientists. They say that people with a slower body clock – and therefore like to stay in bed in the mornings – would be more suited to the longer days on the Red Planet.
Scientists discovered that having a body clock which regulates 'in sync' with a planet's day and night cycle is key to healthy living. That means people who enjoy a lay-in are more suited to the slower rotation of Mars, which takes an extra 37 minutes for one full day compared to Earth.
"The prospect of settling on Mars is a somewhat distant prospect," Andrew Loudon, researcher on the study, told The Telegraph. "But if we ever do get to the Red Planet, I suspect we will be faced with body clock problems; those people with abnormally slow body clocks would be best suited to living there."
Loudon said people that enjoy waking up early and generally believe in 'carpe diem', are more likely to face long-term problems on another planet. Their internal body clock does not have the limits needed for surviving on a planet with a different length of day than Earth. This will ultimately mean that should Nasa ever come to selecting individuals to live on Mars, they are less likely to be chosen.
The link between body clock and living on Mars, was made after a study was published in PNAS. The report, which featured authors from the US, the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, said that maintaining a circadian system is crucial to fitness of individuals. That means to say, a subconscious ability to know when to go to bed, and when to wake up, is essential.
They came to their conclusion by studying mice with genetic variations which increased the speed of their circadian cycle. Half of the mice were used as a baseline with a 24-hour body clock, whilst half were sped up to 20 hours. After 14 months, the majority of the mice were those with normal 24-hour circadian cycles.
"A correctly ticking body clock is essential for normal survival in the wild, and this has to be in phase with the rotation speed of the Earth," said Loudon. "The rotation speed of Mars may be within the limits of some people's internal clock, but people with short running clocks, such as extreme morning types, are likely to face serious intractable long-term problems."