Ever wonder why you can’t keep up with your sister? You don’t get your 8 hours of sleep, and you’re dragging around while she is up and bouncing after only 6. I personally just drink coffee, but there are others who may actually have it in their DNA.
Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania and the Philadelphia area published their study in the journal Sleep. They claim that there is actually a genetic mutation that could explain why some people can get by on 6 hours whereas others of us struggle with our regular 8.
The researchers monitored a sleep study with 100 pairs of healthy, same-sex twins. They were monitored at home while sleeping, and then they were given a battery of cognitive tests during a 38 hour period of being awake. The participants performed pretty well despite being sleep deprived and slept less when they had a gene mutation in the BHLHE41 gene called p. Tyr362HIS.
They say that similar
mutations reduce total sleep while maintaining NREM sleep and provide resistance to the effects of sleep loss. They also recover faster from the 38 hours without sleep.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr Timothy Morgenthaler reported,
This work provides an important second gene variant associated with sleep deprivation and for the first time shows the role of BHLHE41 in resistance to sleep deprivation in humans.
So what does this mean for you? How and when you sleep may not be a preference you can just
get over. It is a biological need that may be wired into your DNA. Chances are, you’ve probably overestimated your ability to get by on less sleep. Research shows that a mere 5% of those who claim they need less sleep actually need less. The rest are simply sleep deprived and don’t know it.
In general, experts recommend 7-9 hours of sleep per night.