Scientists recently published some research findings that might make you sleepy. But before you close your eyes and start your “zzzz”‘s, have you ever asked yourself how some people you know seem to live on 5 to 6 hours of sleep per night without any ill effects, while you need 8 to avoid brain fog? Maybe you had that friend in college that could be the night owl but still wake up for the 8am class? Well, genetic research may have revealed a clue.
A variant (or change) in BHLHE41 has been linked to how much sleep a person needs. Researchers from a variety of facilities worked together to compare sleep needs in identical and fraternal twins. Those with the genetic change did not need 8 hours of sleep but could function well on 6 hours of sleep. Those with the normal gene needed 8 hours of sleep and suffered negative effects when trying to function on 6 hours of sleep in a controlled experimental setting.