Study About Elite Sleepers and the Superpower of Sleep

The result of a study conducted by University of California, San Francisco, tells us that elite sleepers have rare genes, which empower them to be active after lesser amounts of sleep. The study also extrapolates that such individuals have greater psychological resilience and they can fend of. The results of this study has been posted in the journal


It is all in the Genes!

The research confirms that the ability of these elite sleepers comes from the genes of their parents or their ancestors. The scientists have identified five genes and mutations in the genes DEC2 and NPSR1 that impact our sleeping periods and patterns.


The genes DEC2 and NPSR1 are linked with a slower buildup of amyloid plaques, and a reduction in “tau pathology,” both of which are linked to dementia. It means that research has started to home in on specific genes that can prevent dementia, and this will lead to a more effective dementia treatment in the near future.

While it is generally believed that a healthy person needs eight hours of sleep, the researchers in this study explain that the general prescription may not be accurate or applicable to everyone. There is no specific amount of sleep on the previous day that is necessary to start the next day.

The study of a 10-year study of individuals with Familial Natural Short Sleep (FNSS) and those with rare genes that make them elite sleepers shows that the quality of sleep is more important than the amount of sleep. The study also shows that if you are able to function normally in four to six hours of sleep, this pattern may be present in your family as well and you are an “elite sleeper.”

Sleep and Neurological Disorders

The new research backs up a previous hypothesis from Prof. Ying-Hui Fu, a co-senior author on this study, who has theorized that elite sleep fights against neurodegenerative illnesses.

“Sleep problems are common in all diseases of the brain,” Fu said in a statement. “This makes sense because sleep is a complex activity.”

“Many parts of your brain have to work together for you to fall asleep and to wake up. When these parts of the brain are damaged, it makes it harder to sleep or get quality sleep,” she continued.

This study supports the positive correlation between less sleep and neurodegenerative disorders, and another study conducted on rats this month showed that less sleep helps in brain disorders. Sleep is a complex process in which many parts of our brain need to work together. Therefore, when parts of the brain are damaged due to any disorder, it becomes difficult to achieve quality sleep.

However, for those with rare genes or ‘elite sleepers,’ the integration process required for quality sleep is too short due to a genetic factor, and just because they get less sleep does not mean they lose neurons. In fact, researchers say, such people are more likely to fight dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Many may not call themselves ‘Elite Sleepers.’ Researchers estimate only 3 percent of people are classified as ‘FNSS,’ which means that less sleep is needed to function normally.

Fu hopes that improving people’s sleep could help “delay and possibly prevent a lot of diseases.”

“Our goal,” she said, “really is to help everyone live healthier and longer through getting optimum sleep.”

Source: Medindia

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