4 Hours Of Sleep Per Night Could Become The New Norm

September 3, 2019

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A new study done at the University of California - San Francisco shows that the ability some people have to function properly on as little as four hours of sleep per night, is likely due to a DNA mutation.

The study was conducted by Ying-Hui Fu and her colleagues who analyzed the genes of 12 members of a family that sleeps as little as 4.5 hours per night without feeling tired. They found they had a mutation in a gene called ADRB1. When the team bred rats with the same mutation, they slept about 55 minutes less per day. This correlated with altered activity in a brain region called the dorsal pons that is known to regulate sleep. The researchers also found they could wake up sleeping rats by artificially activating these brain cells.

Fu's team previously found mutations in other genes make people need to sleep less. These mutations don’t seem to be associated with any negative health consequences. “Most natural short sleepers are very happy about their sleep pattern – they usually fully take advantage of their extra time,” says Fu. She added it may be possible to develop drugs that reduce the amount of sleep we need by mimicking the effects of the mutation, but that is still a long way off.