Everything You Need To Know About The Short Sleep Gene
If you’re like most people, you probably cling to your precious hours of sleep each night. Waking up and working all day exhausted and fueled by coffee isn’t sustainable for most people.
It’s generally recommended that the average person gets at least seven hours of sleep each night. Being well-rested leads to greater productivity, less stress, and an overall better mood.
Those who struggle with sleep will be envious to learn of a gene that allows some people to feel completely rested after only four or five hours of sleep each night.
This rare gene allows certain individuals to function on very little sleep, and forgo any of the unwanted consequences that usually come with a short night’s sleep.
Keep reading to learn more about this “short sleep” gene and how it works.
A New Short Sleep Gene
Two human genes were recently identified by scientists at the University of California, San Francisco. The scientists found that these two genes work to promote a shorter sleep in some individuals. That short sleep can last between four to six hours.
If you have ever woken up for a flight after four hours, you know that’s hardly the time to feel bright-eyed and bushy-tailed. However, people possessing these two genes can feel great after a short sleep.
The short sleep gene discoveries didn’t end there. A third gene has been discovered that also promotes a shorter, natural sleep.
The only difference? This gene is also associated with memory issues that tend to come hand in hand with sleep deprivation.
Uncovering information about short sleep genes is a relatively new venture for scientists, but it could impact how we understand the connection between genetics and getting enough sleep at night. Imagine if scientists could work out a way to ensure you can get a restful night’s sleep every night.
As the connection between sleep and genetics continues to advance, scientists hope to learn more about sleep behavior and its influence.
NPSR1 And Being Awake
Ying-Hui Fu, Ph.D., a professor of neurology and a member of the UCSF Weill Institute for Neurosciences, has been an integral part of studying genetics and its relationship to sleep.
Fu is part of a team that identified a genetic mutation known as NPSR1. Fu’s team set out to study short sleep within a specific genetic family.
This is when they stumbled upon an important discovery. A mutation was found in a father and son duo, who together average only 4-5 hours of sleep each night.
NPSR1 works to encourage wakefulness. This means that when it activates, the gene works to switch on other proteins in the same pathway. Individuals with NPSR1 are extremely rare.
Incredibly, they don’t seem to suffer the consequences of only getting a few hours of sleep each night. That means this father and son duo, who were identified to possess the NPSR1 gene, can function perfectly fine on significantly less sleep than the general population.
Effects On Memory
Think back to the last time you had a terrible night’s sleep. The next morning you were probably groggy and not functioning at your full capacity. Before a major presentation or exam, people want to ensure that they’re well-rested.
However, what if you’re physically incapable of sleeping much more than five hours each night? How would that affect your productivity, your memory, and so on?
After identifying the NPSR1 gene and the father and son duo, Fu’s team focused on understanding the impact that the genetic mutation may have on an individual’s memory and cognition.
The team used an experiment involving mice to test whether or not mice with NPSR1 demonstrated proper memory.
As it turns out, the mice with the NPSR1 protein did display memory of a specific event. This leads Fu and her colleagues to believe that NPSR1 promotes sleep and helps protect those who have it from associated issues with memory. This discovery makes NPSR1 incredibly unique.
Not only does this rare protein allow for individuals to sleep less, but it also works to ensure normal cognitive function.