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Are some people naturally short sleepers?

Do you know someone who stays up late but still rises early? They seem to function fine on as little as four to five hours of sleep each night. What makes some people such efficient sleepers? You might be surprised to learn it has everything to do with genetics.

Natural Short Sleepers

Researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, identified a genetic mutation that allows those who have it to only need six hours of sleep per night. Although rare, the mutation in the gene DEC2 affects cell production and circadian rhythms.

This mutation shows up in people who are naturally short sleepers, allowing them to need much less than the standard eight hours. But Ying-Hui Fu, a professor of neurology at the University of California, San Francisco, points out that this mutation is extremely rare. She cautions that most people who run on less than eight hours are most likely creating a large sleep debt.

“For years, when I was younger, I drank tea and coffee. I did everything possible only to sleep for just six hours. Since I’ve studied this, I know it’s not good for my health, so I try to sleep at least eight hours a night,” says Fu.

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