You’ve probably already heard that some of the greatest personalities in history didn’t spend too much time in bed. No, this isn’t your average motivational talk, I’m talking about people who really just never slept too much and functioned at full capacity through the waking hours of the day. Did this help them out with their successes? Hell yeah. 

While, most of us curled up into a ball, snoozing away, these people put in the extra time they got into working. And that has to show somewhere, doesn’t it. But don’t worry, we’re not suggesting that you sleep less to get what you want, we’re just saying that sleeping for shorter durations is something that these people didn’t ask for. It’s just genetic.

The gene responsible for decreased requirement of sleep is called the ‘clock gene’.

While the average adult requires close to 8 hours of sleep everyday, certain people can survive on much less.

The usual recommendation for sleeping hours lies somewhere between 7 to 8 hours a night for the average adult human. But if you’ve heard stories of people like former UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and scientist Thomas Edison, you know that there are certain figures out of history who required not more than 4 hours of sleep a night. Sometimes even less.

Fret not, the lack of need for sleep happens to do a lot less with willpower and a lot more with genetics.

Described as the ‘clock gene’ or the Period 3 gene, there is a particular gene that corresponds with the circadian rhythm – in this case, need for sleep in each 24 hour interval. This gene is said to have two variants in the human population, the long and the short version of the corresponding protein.

People with the shorter version of the gene seemed to require much less sleep, and do not experience side effects.

A study conducted by the University of Surrey on the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation showed that people with the short version of the clock gene showed no difference in cognitive function (like reduced attention, reaction time and increased fatigue) after being kept awake for 48 hours straight. Something that happened to the people with the longer version of the gene.

When allowed to sleep, those with the longer form of the gene spent 50% more of their time in slow-wave sleep.

Slow-wave sleep is also usually known as deep sleep, the third stage of non-rapid eye movement sleep. People with the longer variant of the gene showed more time spent in deep sleep which is a key sign that they needed more sleep.

Now math tells us if a person needs only 4 hours of sleep per day, or 4 hours of less sleep with respect to the normal 8 hours that most of us sleep, it will give him an extra eleven years and eight months of waking hours in a lifespan of 70 years. We’re just saying.

What are your sleeping habits like?

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