Research on Elite Sleepers and the Superpower of Sleep
The results of a study conducted by the University of California, San Francisco, tell us that people who sleep well have rare genes that make them more active after sleeping less. The study also extrapolates that such individuals are more resilient to psychological well-being and that they are resilient. The results of this study have been published in the journal
It’s all in the genes!
Research confirms that the ability of these elites to sleep well comes from the genes of their parents or ancestors. Scientists have identified five genes, and mutations in the DEC2 and NPSR1 genes affect the length and pattern of our sleep.
The DEC2 and NPSR1 genes are associated with slower formation of amyloid plaques and reduced “tau pathology,” both of which are associated with dementia. That means research has begun to focus on specific genes that can prevent dementia, and this should lead to a more effective dementia treatment in the near future.
Although it is 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. No specific amount of sleep the day before is needed to start the next day.
A 10-year study of people with Familial Natural Shortness of Sleep (FNSS) and those with a rare gene that makes them good sleepers found that sleep quality is more important than quantity. Research has also shown that if you can function normally for four to six hours of sleep, this pattern can also run through your family and you’re an “elite sleeper.”
Sleep and nervous disorders
The new study supports a hypothesis previously held by Professor Ying-Hui Fu, co-author of this study, who hypothesized that mental sleep counteracts neurodegenerative diseases.
“Sleep problems are common in all brain diseases,” says Fu. “This makes sense because sleep is a complex activity.”
“Many parts of the brain have to work together for you to fall asleep and wake up. When these parts of the brain are damaged, it’s harder for you to fall asleep or get quality sleep,” she continues.
This study supports a positive correlation between less sleep and neurodegenerative disorders, and another study done on rats this month found that less sleep improves 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 will be difficult for you to achieve quality sleep.
However, for people with rare genes or ‘good night sleepers’, the integration needed for quality sleep is too short due to genetics and just because they sleep less doesn’t mean they loss of nerve cells. In fact, such people are more resistant to dementia and Alzheimer’s, the researchers say.
Many people may not call themselves ‘Elite Sleepers’. Researchers estimate only 3 percent of people are classified as ‘FNSS’, which means less sleep is needed to function properly.
Fu hopes that improving people’s sleep can help “delay and possibly prevent many diseases.”
“Our goal,” she says, “is really to help people live healthier and longer lives through getting optimal sleep.”