Circadian rhythms and sleep are two separate but intimately related processes. Circadian rhythms are generated through the precisely controlled, cyclic expression of a number of genes designated clock genes. Genetic variability in these genes has been associated with a number of phenotypic differences in circadian as well as sleep parameters, both in mouse models and in humans. Diurnal preferences as determined by the selfreported Horne-Östberg (HÖ) questionnaire, has been associated with polymorphisms in the human genes CLOCK, PER1, PER2 and PER3. Circadian rhythm-related sleep disorders have also been associated with mutations and polymorphisms in clock genes, with the advanced type cosegrating in an autosomal dominant inheritance pattern with mutations in the genes PER2 and CSNK1D, and the delayed type associating without discernible Mendelian inheritance with polymorphisms in CLOCK and PER3. Several mouse models of clock gene null alleles have been demonstrated to have affected sleep homeostasis. Recent findings have shown that the variable number tandem polymorphism in PER3, previously linked to diurnal preference, has profound effects on sleep homeostasis and cognitive performance following sleep loss, confirming the close association between the processes of circadian rhythms and sleep at the genetic level.