Your Perfect Amount Of Sleep May Be Based On Your Genetics


People need a certain amount of sleep to maintain their health and well-being. Sleep is just as important to people’s health as regular exercise and a balanced diet. On the other hand, sleep dysregulation is connected to a higher risk of various human disorders, including the development of neurodegeneration like Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

In this situation, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial for recharging your body for the next day and preventing neurological degeneration. According to many experts and sources, eight hours of sleep is the recommended minimum for feeling refreshed and refueled. However, the results of a study carried out by academics at UC San Francisco suggest differently. Their research, published in iScience, supported the idea that heredity has a role in how much sleep individuals require.

People with Familial Natural Short Sleep (FNSS), who can function normally on four to six hours of sleep each night and prefer it, have been the subject of research by the team. They’ve demonstrated that it runs in families and, to now, have found five genes across the genome that contribute to this effective sleep.

Identifying Familial Natural Short Sleep Mutations

Although much research has shown that insufficient sleep makes AD more likely to develop, there needs to be more concrete information to show how getting enough sleep affects AD pathogenesis. Inferring that they would have higher sleep quality, Familial Natural Short Sleepers (FNSS) are genetically predisposed to a lifelong reduction in nightly sleep duration without obvious consequences on cognitive decline.

According to UC San Francisco researchers, these people possess genes that pack the advantages of sleep into a useful time window, keeping them alert on as little as four or six hours of sleep every night. According to the researchers, these “elite sleepers” also exhibit psychological toughness and tolerance to neurodegenerative diseases, which may provide clues for preventing neurological disease.

The study explored the idea that deep sleep can protect against neurodegenerative disorders. 

The study’s findings counter the belief that sleep deprivation speeds up neurodegeneration in many people. The difference is that the brain completes its sleep-related tasks faster with FNSS. In other words, less sleep time may be different from insufficient sleep.

To verify their hypothesis, the scientists decided to examine mice models of Alzheimer’s disease because it is such a common disorder. They discovered that their brains formed far fewer telltale aggregates associated with dementia when they raised mice with both short-sleep genes and genes that made them susceptible to Alzheimer’s. They repeated the experiment using mice with a different short-sleep gene and a different dementia gene, and they observed comparable outcomes, further supporting their findings.

According to the findings, there is a lot of potential for figuring out how to use better sleep to prevent neurodegeneration, which would lower the prevalence of AD and possibly other types of neurodegeneration.

The researchers stated that analogous studies of other brain disorders would demonstrate that efficient-sleep genes offer comparable safeguards. By enhancing sleep, people can slow the onset of various diseases. Drugs that will assist prevent issues with sleep disorders may be found by understanding the molecular basis of sleep regulation. The researchers added that increasing sleep in healthy individuals might also maintain well-being and enhance the value of each person’s time. However, searching for the several genes involved is a lengthy process that they compare to putting together a 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzle.

On the other hand, the scientists claimed that each mutation found adds to the puzzle. Even though there is still a long way to go, some of the few genes they have discovered already show promise. With currently available medications that could be modified, at least one of them can be affected. Within the next ten years, they hope to have contributed to developing novel therapies that will improve sleep for those suffering from brain diseases.

Journal Reference

Dong, Q., Gentry, N. W., McMahon, T., Yamazaki, M., Benitez-Rivera, L., Wang, T., Gan, L., Ptáček, L., & Fu, Y.-H. (2022). Familial natural short sleep mutations reduce alzheimer pathology in mice. IScience, 25(4), 103964.

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