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There is a Specific Gene That Can Control How Long You Sleep

A natural short sleeper is an individual who can sleep for less than six hours per night even if they have more time to sleep. They are different from people who struggle with insomnia or other sleeping disorders. But why are they this way?

There is a gene that controls your sleep cycle. Because of this gene, short sleepers can function just as well on 4-6 hours of sleep as a person who gets the full 8 hours.

Are Six Hours of Sleep Enough?

In 2009, UCSF researchers revealed that a DNA mutation causes some people to feel rested after fewer than 6.5 hours of sleep. Ten years later, the researchers have discovered a second short sleep gene. According to the study’s principal investigator, UCSF Professor Ying-Hui Fu, numerous others are currently being investigated.

Before we identified the first short-sleep gene, people really weren’t thinking about sleep duration in genetic terms. 

Ying-Hui Fu, Neurology Professor at UCSF

Researchers led by Fu found that individuals with the DEC2 gene mutation slept on average for only 6.25 hours per night and reported feeling rested. Without the mutation, study participants worked an average of 8.06 hours.

In the most recent study, specialists focused on a family that included three generations of short sleepers by nature. Even though none of them carried the DEC2 mutation, researchers identified another mutation termed ADRB1, which is likewise linked to a naturally short sleep period.

None of the harmful health impacts of sleep deprivation are experienced by those with gene abnormalities. Instead, Fu claims they are more vivacious and adaptable sleepers who may still feel rested even when their sleep patterns alter.

Today, most people are chronically sleep deprived. If you need eight to nine hours, but only sleep seven, you’re sleep deprived. This has well-known, long-term health consequences. You’re more likely to suffer from cardiovascular disease, cancer, dementia, metabolic problems and a weakened immune system.

Ying-Hui Fu, Neurology Professor at University of California San Francisco

Though more and more sleep genes are being discovered, according to Fu, the mutation is probably very rare.

I think for lot of people who don’t get a lot of sleep, it’s just willpower. I think a lot of people claim they don’t need a lot of sleep, but they’re not genuine short-sleepers.”

Ying-Hui Fu, Neurology Professor at University of California San Francisco

However, Fu says they’ll utilize their findings to understand better how to assist people who have trouble falling or staying asleep. Currently, there are no plans to establish gene mutation frequency in people.

For me, the goal is to figure out how sleep is regulated and make sleep more efficient, If we can help everyone sleep better, then everyone will be healthier and age better. The goal is not to find out how many people have this mutation, but to learn how the bodies of the people with the mutation work.

Ying-Hui Fu, Neurology Professor at University of California San Francisco

What are the Advantages of Getting a Good Night’s Sleep?

Sleep is highly essential for us to physically and mentally function. But there are other benefits as well.

Sleeping Can Help Your Immune System

Your immune system’s cells and proteins are well-rested when your body gets adequate sleep, enabling them to fend off illnesses like the flu or the common cold. Furthermore, according to well-rested sleep experts from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, getting enough sleep can improve the effectiveness of immunizations.

Sleep Can Help Your Heart

Sleep deprivation can lead to heart problems such as high blood pressure or heart attacks. This is because a lack of sleep can cause your body to release cortisol, a stress hormone that causes your heart to function harder. Like your immune system, your heart requires rest to function effectively and efficiently, another reason to love sleep. 

(Source: Intermountain Healthcare)

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