Andy’s Quick Hits (191): Are you an “elite sleeper”? It’s in your genes.

Andy Hab
2 min readMar 29, 2022

I’ve reported many times on different aspects of sleep and how important this is for health in general and for brain health in particular. You can go here for a short review of all the good things sleep does (and the bad things deprivation does!).

However, some people seem to manage perfectly fine on as little as four hours of sleep a night and this is what the researchers at the University of California wanted to know more about.

They have studied people with Familial Natural Short Sleep (FNSS) and identified five genes that contribute to this. And indeed, in this study, with mice it must be said, those with these genes seem to be immune to the degeneration and increased risk of neurodegenerative disorders that is normally associated with sleep deprivation.

This shows that the amount of sleep we need is genetically different, and those short sleepers can reap the benefits of a good night’s sleep in as much as half the time as others. However, be warned of convincing yourself that you are a short sleeper, if you are not, it will be bad for your brain.

But the takeaway is that sleep patterns are driven by genetics, and you will have to find out what works for you best.

My experience tells me that 7.25 hours is what I need, and that is what I try to get…with some natural variation of course.

Qing Dong, Nicholas W. Gentry, Thomas McMahon, Maya Yamazaki, Lorena Benitez-Rivera, Tammy Wang, Li Gan, Louis Ptáček, Ying-Hui Fu.
Familial natural short sleep mutations reduce Alzheimer pathology in mice.
iScience, 2022; 103964
DOI: 10.1016/j.isci.2022.103964

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Andy Hab

The brain and human behaviour, in business, society, learning, and health.