The amount of sleep needed each night may depend less on fluffy pillows than a single genetic mutation, according to research published on Thursday.
A team of scientists claim they have identified a gene that regulates the optimum amount of human sleep each individual needs, explaining why after six hours of slumber one person may awake reborn, while another is like the living dead.
The study, published in the journal Science on Thursday, identified a mother and daughter pair who needed well below the eight-and-a-half hours a night that doctors say is a must for long-term well being , AFP reports.
“I think it’s really a landmark study,” said Dr. Charles A. Czeisler, a leading sleep researcher and chief of sleep medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. “It opens up a window to the understanding of the genetic basis of individual differences in sleep duration. Now you have a piece of the puzzle and you can begin to try to trace back as opposed to having little information as to where to start.” , New York Times reports.
"This is the first time a gene has been found in humans that critically and dramatically controls sleep," Tafti tells WebMD. "We now have evidence that a gene mutation can dramatically change the amount of sleep you get."
Many people set their alarms to go off only six hours after they go to bed. But nearly all of them get some kind of "power nap" during the day to keep them going, says sleep expert Richard Simon Jr., MD, medical director of the Kathryn Severyns Dement Sleep Disorders Center in Walla Walla, Wash , WebMD reports.