If You Only Need 5 Hours Of Sleep, It Might Be In Your Genes (According To New Research)

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woman asleep in bed

If you find yourself waking up at 4 or 5 AM after going to sleep at 10 PM, you might have a rare gene known as the "short sleep gene."

Researchers have determined our circadian rhythm might be genetically predetermined and sleep patterns are passed down hereditarily. 

Researchers have discovered several ‘short sleep’ genes. 

Ying-Hui Fu, from the University of California, San Francisco, and her colleagues, have been seeking out and studying families in which some people seem to need less sleep than normal.

Through this research, Fu has discovered several genetic mutations that make family members able to survive and thrive off just a few hours of sleep a night. 

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Fu’s team first reported in 2009 that a mutation in a gene called DEC2 caused short sleepers to stay awake longer. 

Then, she discovered that a mutation in ADRB1 allowed 12 members of a family to sleep as little as 4.5 hours per night without feeling tired.

Later, a third mutation in a gene called NPSR1 caused members of another family to average between 5.5 and 4.3 hours of sleep per night. 

‘Short sleep’ genes are associated with increased productivity. 

And while the gene might seem like your worst nightmare if you dread getting out of bed in the mornings, those with the gene seem to put those extra hours to good use. 

Researchers discovered many short sleepers were ambitious, type A personalities, but also incredibly positive, outgoing and optimistic.

Many were marathon runners with positive physical and physiological traits that may be linked to their sleep patterns. 

These findings suggest that the genetic mutation prevents short sleepers from experiencing any adverse effects of sleep deprivation, which is typically associated with obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems, depression and cognitive deficits.

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‘Short sleep’ genes prevent memory deficits.

Another win for short sleepers is their phenomenal memories.

Not only do they have more time awake to make these memories, but they’re also actually more likely to recall them in later years!

Fu said some 90 percent to 95 percent of the people in the studies had these common characteristics and were able to avoid the memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation. 

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To confirm this research, memory tests were performed on mice who were engineered to possess the gene. 

Mice were placed in a chamber and gently shocked with an electrical current while exploring their surroundings. 

When normal mice are well-rested, they are able to remember the shock and refuse to roam around after being returned to the chamber.

Sleep-deprived mice, on the other hand, don’t exhibit fear and seemed to forget the shock when they were returned. 

However, carriers of the mutant version of NPSR1 did remember the electrical shocks, even after being sleep deprived.

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Alice Kelly is a writer living in Brooklyn, New York. Catch her covering all things social justice, news, and entertainment. Keep up with her Twitter for more.