They sleep only 5 hours a night: the family that has the gene of little sleep

This syndrome would depend on genetics: an entire American family has been studied by a team of neurologists because they manage to be active and productive with few hours of rest.

An American Mormon family, consisting of parents and 8 children, has been studied because it is affected by what has been called the "gene of little sleep". Many of the members of the nucleus manage to be energetic and productive resting much less than the classic 8 hours a night. Even these "poor sleepers" have said they can't get more sleep, even if they were paid to do so. By waking up very early in the morning, they are able to play basketball, read and do a variety of activities, even at the expense of other family members who, instead, normally sleep 8-10 hours and are often disturbed by the bright lights and noise of their more active siblings. Also tested in the study were the families of the siblings of the head of the family, all of whom were very large, numbering about 200-250 people.

The little sleep gene in the American family

The genetic study on this large extended family began in 2005 and was conducted by neurology professor Ying-Hui Fu, who conducts research on sleep genes at the Weill Institute for Neurosciences in California, and Dr. Chris Jones. At the time of the research, both experts were attending the University of Utah. Observing the behavior of Johnson's family members, some of whom could only rest for up to five hours a night, the team published its first discovery in 2009: there was a mutation in the DEC2 gene that made them stay awake longer. Since then, researchers have identified two other genes, an ADRB1 mutation and an NPSR1 mutation, that alter neurotransmitters in the human brain to create short sleep.

The analysis then revealed that there would also be positive personality traits associated with the ability to successfully sleep for only five hours. Many of them were ambitious, Type A personalities who were incredibly positive, outgoing and optimistic. "They weren't just smart. It was torture for them to do nothing," Jones said, "They like to run marathons. One of them would even decide to build a violin, which he later did. "The drive they have is physical, but also psychological. It's really remarkable," Jones added. Ying-Hui Fu, on the other hand, reported that 90% to 95% of people with the short sleep gene had these characteristics, including also a phenomenal memory capacity.

With regard to sleep, then, a recent finding identified that listening to too much music before going to sleep could be detrimental to rest. The tune might get stuck in your head and disrupt the normal REM phase process.

Stefania Bernardini