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Well, according to scientists at the University Of California there’s a group of people called “short sleepers” who can get by just fine with just 4 hours sleep.
Here’s the video and a transcript of it below.
This is Mia Chow, she sleeps a mere 5 hours a night. I do set an alarm but I’ve never really heard it go off I don’t even know what it really sounds like that’s because she might have a very rare and recently discovered genetic mutation that makes her what
researchers are now calling natural short sleepers. To learn more about these
genes what they mean for natural short sleepers and the rest of us who need twice as much sleep per night I sat down with the researcher who discovered these genes
i’m, Ying Hoi Foo and I’m a professor of neurology at the University of California San Francisco.
What actually is the definition of a short sleeper, there are two types of short sleepers one is we call them habitual short sleepers there are the people who probably are not genetically wired but they somehow train themselves to do different things so they sleep fewer hours and then most people and I it’s hard to say what the long-term
consequences will be right but at the time that we study our we call them nature short sleepers and their body so wired to to be short sleepers.
So our definition is usually somewhere four to six hours if they sleep more than what they need like six or six in half they actually feel awful yeah so it’s reverse one was right I would love to sleep ten hours in 2009 you discovered the first gene that was associated with short sleeping and just recently you’ve discovered a second gene right, so recently we published the second and third mutations they also cause people to be short sleepers.
So these are all genes with different functions so the biggest question I have now and also for the sleep field is that we really don’t know very much or anything at all about how sleep is regulated especially with the sleep homeostasis right and so we’re kind of working trying to piece together a puzzle that we have no idea what’s in the puzzle and right now all we can say is we have this genes and they encode four completely different things and we don’t know what they do but hopefully when we find more we’ll be able to somehow converge them and find come on pathways that regulate how our sleep homeostasis works.
So so once you’ve identified a person or a family who is is experiencing short sleep how do you actually go about finding the gene or the mutation responsible for that so usually we have one person approaches first and from this person. If we feel this person is a really good true nature short sleeper we then try to see if we can recruit this person’s family then we take a little bit of their plot to get their DNA and use their DNA to do sequencing and we look at the entire genome to look for the DNA changes between them and compared to normal people, or people in the same family that are not sure sleeper, we use a CRISPR to generate a mice that the only change they have is the base that that’s the same with human so this mizar normal completely normal except the single base that we change according to the human sure sleeper.
And so if this mice who only have one base change also sleep blasts then the normal mice it will tell us yes this single base change is very critical how rare is it how many people I would guess I would guess one in several thousand and we have so far somewhere around 100 just over how many people
Good morning it is about 4:30 and I’ve been awake for the past 45 minutes just doing a little bit of reading and catching up on work emails starting with people on the East Coast so it seems a little less crazy in terms of timing we spoke to CMA who is a short sleeper do you have any idea what her mutation is or what’s going on with her for she may we have a dumb question nail and the interviews strict interview and we feel that she is true nature show sleeper, but we have not found her mutation yet.
Yeah so for most of us who are not short sleepers if we tried to sleep just for six hours a night we wouldn’t suffer consequences of sleep deprivation and that’s pretty serious stuff right are these people experiencing any kinds of abnormalities or other health effects from sleeping less.
I cannot say 100-person definitely there is no negative consequences all I can say is from our observations so far it doesn’t seem like they have any health problem and a lot of them lived here 80’s and 90’s or be young and it’s and then there are some very interesting traits the hair they have again it’s not like a hundred person of them all have this traits but a lot of them are very optimistic and very energetic you know they sleep few hours their nose but they have two jobs or three jobs or go to school for time and have two jobs at the same time and very good multitaskers and so and then they also have higher pain threshold they don’t feel pain as easy as we do and they also don’t experience jet lag.
A lot of them to experience chat like another thing very common they say is a very good memory they speak many languages or they you know they’re unusual audio memory they hear something they never forget but it’s just memory, seems to be something that that’s very common the American memory that sounds amazing
do you think that there is something we can learn about sleep for the rest of the population for people who need eight hours of sleep our body is not doing nothing you know our body is working very hard doing things for us so that we can stay healthy
whatever it takes our body eight hours to accomplish for these short sleepers only take four to six hours.
In other words their sleep it’s more efficient it means that if we are well rested we are likely to be like that and there’s a lot of scientific publication now saying
that if we sleep deprived ourselves just a few hours a day on a long-term basis the chance for us to have many of the common diseases is much higher then if we just sleep we don’t get good night’s sleep so short sleepers are optimistic they have better memory
they’re healthier they’re living long lives this seems amazing do you see this as a sort of human evolution.
So it appears I give a it’s not a negative mutations or these are not negative mutations and why do we only see so few people among the population and the one reason I can think of is that these are probably newer mutations and so because if you think of our human recent human history right there are two major events really significantly changed in our silly behavior.
One is the invention of electricity and light right before electricity and light we all had to go to bed soon after dark there was not much to do right there was no advantage to stay up late because you you’ll be staying inside and had nothing to do twist your thumbs right and so there was no advantage to be sure sleeper in the second second major event I think it’s a digital revolution that really affects our sleep so I think that these are all newer mutations that happen in the maybe last you know 80 hundred years and that’s why so few people have this mutations.
Yeah we are barreling toward an age where people are talking about things like CRISPR and other techniques to change our genetics you know in a world where CRISPR is prevalent do you imagine this is something that people could change about their own DNA to me that day is still far away we first have to know CRISPR is safe for human because by changing one gene usually one gene and one protein they have so many functions the important thing is you don’t want it to affect other systems right and so on a shorter term may be more likely is we can find something that can help us regulate the pathway and so that we can sleep more efficient so I’m not a short sleeper.
I definitely need eight hours of sleep a night do you think that’s what you recommend to people you sleep for eight hours so when I think most people majority of the people do need eight to eight and half hours of sleep for most people but sleep is really a very individual thing everybody has their special sleep pattern well thank you so much for joining us doc okay
thank you thank you to have me