Certain people can sleep less thanks to mutated genes

There are people who sleep fewer hours than others without suffering sleep deprivation. For many years this aspect has left scientists and neurobiologists surprised, and a genetic cause has also been proposed among the various theories. This theory was then partially confirmed when in 2009 a study conducted by Ying-Hui Fu, a professor of neurology, led to the discovery of the DEC2 gene. The researchers found that this gene, with its particular mutation, allowed people to sleep only 6.25 hours per night while those who did not show this mutation slept an average of 8.06 hours.

The theory concerns the genetic cause behind the so-called “natural short sleep” that is now again corroborated by a new study produced by the same team of scientists at the University of California at San Francisco, led once again by Fu. Also, in this case, the scientists claim to have discovered a gene related to short sleep, the second after DEC2.

And this is a completion of the theory because the first gene could explain short sleep only for a few people, not for all, because of a rare mutation. Some people who showed short sleep did not have this mutation of the DEC2 gene (and there was no other cause arising from various diseases or conditions that could explain the short sleep in these people).

“We didn’t think there was just one gene or brain region that told our bodies to sleep or wake up,” says Louis Ptáček, senior author of this new study.

The new gene discovered is ADRB1. A mutated version is linked to the duration of sleep, as scientists saw during experiments performed on mice.

People with a natural short sleep experience better sleep quality and efficiency, as Fu said.

Gary Nelson

I am a retired professor of psychology from Illinois State University and a lifelong educator and scientist. Throughout my life I have maintained a strong interest not only in my primary field of psychology & neuroscience, but in numerous different areas of scientific research ranging from biology to astronomy to computer science. After retiring, I founded wantingwave.com as a hobby to keep me sharp and engaged with what's happening in different fields that I've always had an interest in. Since registering the site in early-2019 and hiring a WordPress expert to put the site together, I've since reached out to others to help contribute content, and hope to gradually build up the publication to one that eventually becomes a household name.

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Gary Nelson