The Amount of Sleep you Need is Genetically Determined

Do you ever wish you were one of those people who need less than 8 hours every night? Or have you ever wondered why you are one of these lucky people?

It’s common knowledge that sleep deprivation can cause actual physical harm, like a car crash, or cause you to hit “reply all” when you don’t mean to — a crash of a different sort.

Sleep deprivation results in severe cognitive impairments: lower productivity and difficulty concentrating, memory issues, and motivational problems.

It even makes you like your hobbies less.

That’s not to mention the known increased health risks, like hypertension, heart disease, obesity, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and even neurodegenerative diseases, like Alzheimer’s.

With that being said, you might be surprised to learn that your genes have something to do with how much sleep you need.

A new study suggests, the amount of time people spend sleeping is linked with two regions of their DNA.

Sleep expert, Allan Pack, and his colleagues at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology published the results of an ongoing study of the sleep patterns of identical and fraternal twins.

For thirty-eight hours, each twin was kept continuously awake while being carefully monitored by a team of sleep researchers.

Every two hours, each one was given a Psychomotor Vigilance Test (P.V.T.), a task in which one must react quickly to a light or a dot that appears on a screen at random times, to determine his reaction time in different conditions.

“If susceptibility to sleep deprivation is heritable, the identical twins should be close together on their performance, and the non-identical should be further apart,” Pack said.

What the researchers found was that the reaction to sleep deprivation was largely heritable: 80% of the variation among peoples’ susceptibility to the cognitive effects of sleep deprivation was explained by genetics.

“The genes people had clearly affected how they responded to sleep deprivation,”
-Allan Pack, Sleep Expert

So what should you do?

Figure out what kind of sleeper you are, and live your life accordingly.

The amount of sleep you need is genetically determined as much as your height or shoe size. Some people need very little sleep, others need 11 or 12 hours to feel their best.

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