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Genetic Mutation Enables Less Sleep

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 4 years ago | from the i-want-to-be-like-mork dept.

272

reporter writes to tell us that researchers are claiming to have discovered a genetic mutation that allows people to manage with much less sleep. One of the researchers hopes that this could lead to artificially reducing the amount of sleep required in your average human. "Although the mutation has been identified in only two people, the power of the research stems from the fact that the shortened sleep effect was replicated in mouse and fruit-fly studies. As a result, the research now gives scientists a clearer sense of where to look for genetic traits linked to sleep patterns."

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272 comments

Next up (5, Funny)

ausekilis (1513635) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069277)

Maybe they'll find a genetic predisposition of attraction to LCD screens and avoidance of sunlight.

Re:Next up (5, Informative)

linhares (1241614) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069523)

Maybe they'll find a genetic predisposition of attraction to LCD screens and avoidance of sunlight.

Don't joke dude; the gene is named DEC [wikipedia.org] 2; I'm sure they'll find it.

In any case, this is VERY exploratory stuff. They have found the gene in two women only, but were able to replicate it in some poor little mice and fruit flies. Other than that, the lack of details is what is outstanding about the article.

Oh, for those tagging this as "registration required", just google the effing URL of the NYTimes article, as users that come from Google get a free ride. You gotta hand it to these newspapers guys; they want to block people while getting google love.

Mutation (4, Funny)

avandesande (143899) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069293)

Mutation activated by Mountain Dew and Cheetos

Re:Mutation (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069897)

In other words, this mutation is the driving force of the Linux/FOSS community.... Hail and praise!

X-Men (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069295)

The rise of the X-Men begins with those able to scheme and plot 24/7!

I thought it said... (4, Funny)

realsilly (186931) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069299)

.... genetic mutation for less sheep. That could cause problems in alabama...

Re:I thought it said... (1)

Xtravar (725372) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069375)

I thought the same thing (posting to remove accidental mod).

Re:I thought it said... (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069425)

.... genetic mutation for less sheep. That could cause problems in alabama...

Nah, there aren't that many Scotsmen in Alabama. You do realize there is a reason that Dolly was cloned in Scotland, right?

Re:I thought it said... (1)

s4ltyd0g (452701) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069781)

Because they wear kilts and the sound of zippers scare the sheep?

Re:I thought it said... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069429)

I thought the same thing, but then I read your comment as "genetic mutation for less sleep" and looked over it until my second time reading the comments here. Ironically, it took me half of the summary to realise it wasn't talking about sheep... and images of blissful sheep farmers and lots of cotton spun through my head...

Re:I thought it said... (4, Funny)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069491)

And in New Zealand [adultsheepfinder.com] .

Re:I thought it said... (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069599)

Comically enough I'm not sure if I've seen a single Sheep outside of the state fair here in Alabama. I did see them quite often in Ohio though.

Re:I thought it said... (2, Funny)

iphayd (170761) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069761)

That's because they're in the red light section of the state fair. Have you shown proof of age anywhere yet? Then you can't see any sheep.

Re:I thought it said... (3, Funny)

R2.0 (532027) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069803)

"genetic mutation for less sheep"

That would be fewer sheep. After all, the whole point of sleep is to count them...

I wonder how long.... (3, Funny)

8127972 (73495) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069321)

... Before we get Gustav Graves? [wikipedia.org]

Someone better tell MI6.

Employment Adjustments (4, Insightful)

Imagix (695350) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069327)

I can see these things coming up: 1) Companies requiring genetic therapy to retroactively apply this mutation to you. 2) Extending the work day as the workers don't need as much sleep

Re:Employment Adjustments (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069455)

If this actually happened there would almost certainly be a massive increase in depression and suicides.

Re:Employment Adjustments (2, Insightful)

frosty_tsm (933163) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069643)

If this actually happened there would almost certainly be a massive increase in depression and suicides.

Hasn't this already been brought on by industrialisation and modern society?

Re:Employment Adjustments (3, Insightful)

FooAtWFU (699187) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069715)

"Certainly, the eugenistic and racial ideologies that in the past humiliated man and provoked immense suffering are not being proposed again, but a new mentality is creeping in that tends to justify a different consideration of life and personal dignity . . . The tendency, therefore, is to give precedence to the active faculties, to proficiency, to physical perfection and beauty, to the detriment of other dimensions of existence that are not thought to matter. This weakens the respect that is due to every human being, even in the presence of a developmental defect or a genetic illness that could be manifested at some point in his life . . "

... or when they don't want to be infused with the "latest and greatest" trendy genetic therapy.

(Pope Benedict XVI, with regards to human dignity in the face of genetic enhancement technology)

Re:Employment Adjustments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069865)

They won't need to require the therapy.

They will simply demand 18 hour work days from all employees. Anyone who can't live up to that will either not be hired, or will be eliminated, since there will be a sufficiently-large pool of workers who are capable of doing this.

Companies which stick to the 8 hour work day will be at a competitive disadvantage, and will therefore be displaced over time.

That is just natural selection at work, after all.

Oh, and you can bet your ass it will happen. Plenty of people will opt to have this done initially just so they can extend their waking lives, to their personal gain. As the number of people that have done this increases, the effects I mentioned above will start to happen as a matter of economic necessity.

Welcome to the future.

Re:Employment Adjustments (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069951)

Well, if you let them treat you like that, you deserve it.

Yes, you are expected to oppose it, even if you are the only one. (And you will quickly notice getting followers, if they see you being self-confident about it.)

Great (3, Funny)

Cornwallis (1188489) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069339)

Now we can look forward to 22 hour workdays. "You got your two hours of sleep you wuss!"

I'm insulted by ... (0)

neonprimetime (528653) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069341)

What distinguishes the two women in the study and other naturally short sleepers is that they go to bed at a normal time and wake up early without an alarm. The two women, one in her 70s and the other in her 40s, go to bed around 10 or 10:30 at night and wake up alert and energized around 4 or 4:30 in the morning, Dr. Fu said.

..the doctor's name!

Re:I'm insulted by ... (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069633)

go to bed around 10 or 10:30 at night and wake up alert and energized around 4 or 4:30 in the morning

"Only" 5½-6 hours of sleep? That really doesn't seem all that drastic; I'd wager that many people could train themselves to do this. (Although, whether you could keep this up for years with no ill effects I couldn't say.)

Personally I usually go to bed around 11:30 and always wake up on my own around 6:00 (my alarm doesn't go off until 6:30). Even when I stayed up until 1:00 a few nights ago I still woke up at about 6:00 out of habit.

Re:I'm insulted by ... (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069925)

You would be training yourself to be tolerant of sleep deprivation. This gene means you don't have any awareness of or ill effects as a result of sleep deprivation, because you are not deprived.

Does it also let you read the thoughts of evil? (1)

genner (694963) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069347)

Queue the Nightman references.

Re:Does it also let you read the thoughts of evil? (1)

Pulse_Instance (698417) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069839)

Master of karate and friendshipâ¦for everyone

Boy, this sounds great ... (4, Interesting)

richg74 (650636) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069359)

If I can spend a lot less time sleeping, just think of all the cool stuff I can do:
  • Watch all the really worthwhile programs on TV
  • Listen to politicians trade lies about health care
  • Read more blogs, so I can learn more about abnormal psychology

On second thought, is slitting my wrists an option?

Re:Boy, this sounds great ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069825)

With all the spare time you'll be getting you'll be able to research ways on how to get more spare time so that you can continue your research on how to get more spare time so that you can -!CTRL+C!-

woah what?

fruit-fly studies ? (1)

lbalbalba (526209) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069367)

And here I was thinking that the total life span of a fruit fly was even less than the average time a human sleeps per day...?

Define "manage" (4, Insightful)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069373)

What exactly does "manage" mean? Does that mean you actually are more efficient and your body works just as well with less sleep? Or does it mean your brain functions better when tired... or that you don't actually GET tired? Or does it simply mean you can go longer before you burn out completely. Or whatever.

"Managing" and being "productive" are quite different... and subjective.

Re:Define "manage" (4, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069479)

Speaking from personal experience, it's that yu dnt knead as much sleap...for exmpl, I don't need as much sleep ass othres dew...I meen, Ive been up for almstr 3 dys straight, and i;m stll operatig at peak form,,,my mind is stll sharp, and safdgege ewMONKEYS!!#@! Sorry about that, I thnk I blcked out for a secnd...what was I talking abt...oh right, ppl who say yu need to sleep EVERY DAY r full of sht.

Re:Define "manage" (5, Funny)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069519)

I nominate you for Slashdot Editor.

Re:Define "manage" (2, Funny)

bwintx (813768) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069561)

Speaking from personal experience, it's that yu dnt knead as much sleap...for exmpl, I don't need as much sleep ass othres dew...I meen, Ive been up for almstr 3 dys straight, and i;m stll operatig at peak form,,,my mind is stll sharp, and safdgege ewMONKEYS!!#@! Sorry about that, I thnk I blcked out for a secnd...what was I talking abt...oh right, ppl who say yu need to sleep EVERY DAY r full of sht.

What's really sad is that it would take three tweets to include that.

Re:Define "manage" (1)

clone53421 (1310749) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069611)

I think it's more efficient sleep. You get rested in less time.

Reminds me of a Sci Fi novel in which an astronaut had an AI optimizing algorithm programmed into his brain. The theory was that your brain does a sort of garbage collection and reset process while you're sleeping. With the AI, he gradually started needing less and less sleep and eventually didn't need sleep at all because it was happening while he was awake. I'm not suggesting that this extreme is practical, but the idea might be in the right ballpark.

Re:Define "manage" (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069743)

But muscle activity is not related to brain garbage collection, is it? Being physically tired is different. I guess that's more "rest" and not "sleep" though.

Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjects? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069377)

Anyone with access to the paper know if they analyzed the naturally short sleepers for lack of benefits from sleeping [wikipedia.org] ? An immune system deficiency? Metabolism rate? Increased food intake? Accelerated aging? Memory and learning issues? Biomass, muscle & organ development?

I'm not a biologist and I don't know what sleep durations are for other mammals but the scientist in me wonders why we settled out at eight hours a day if we are more vulnerable with our eyes closed. You would think it performs pretty important functions (or did perform) for the 5 percent of short sleepers not to collect more food and proliferate more efficiently and more frequently than the other 95% 8 hour sleepers. Perhaps in times of famine or disease this 5% are more susceptible and since we no longer have them they are freed from these shackles? Perhaps (since the two subjects noted were ages 40 and 70) this only becomes apparent with the onset of age that we never made it to back in the day? Any other ideas?

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (4, Insightful)

MyLongNickName (822545) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069405)

I came here to make a similar remark. A mutation like this would seem to be highly beneficial. Wouldn't you expect to see more of it in the population if it didn't have some downside to it?

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069517)

Or maybe evolution isn't all its cracked up to be!

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069569)

That being said, I doubt that this mutation will, short of mandated breeding or genetic mangling, make it into the general populace. Genetic evolution, even microevolution, seems nearly impossible for the human race right now.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (0)

snowraver1 (1052510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069853)

O rly?

I see humans evolving into a "yellow race". A merging of black, white and asian into the new human. Humans also continue to grow taller, so I expect that trend to continue. Selective breeding will weed out the "fatties" eventually. Eventually (not that long) I think we will resemble the stereotypical alien, just with smaller eyes and a normal nose.

The other option I see for the future of the human race is that it will decline. We will get fatter, poorer, and dumber. The ghetto seems to spawn new life at an incredible rate. It is a proven fact that educated people have less children then their high school drop-out counterparts... We'll have to wait and see.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069603)

Does it really give such a large benefit?

For countless generations humans have lived without the access to heating and lighting we have, while at the same time being highly reliant upon farming. I feel it's more a recent phenomenon that gives an advantage to those able to sleep less, with nighttime work, greater mental demends from work (as opposed to physical labour that puts you more at risk of injury at night) et al.

I don't really see much in the way of selective pressure in favour of sleeping less before the modern age.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069675)

You could ask the same question in regards to why we don't have sensory organs to detect in the Infrared spectrum like pit vipers do. It would certainly have been an evolutionary edge. The answer is probably that what we have developed is good enough.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069695)

No side effects for women. Shrinking penis syndrome for men. Now who wants the new treatment?

Cellular repair, sanity? (5, Insightful)

phorm (591458) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069735)

I wonder about the average level of sleep we get nowadays, how much we need as we age, sanity issues, and more.

At the moment, sleep deprivation can lead to some nasty psychological issues. It says that the mice "recovered quicker from periods of sleep deprivation compared with regular mice", but does that mean that they just jumped to work quicker and less sluggishly, how about mental health? I'm guessing it becomes a quality VS quantity issue. I know that when my allergies act up, I don't breathe as well, and even though I sleep slightly longer durations I feel less rested than less sleep with clear sinuses. The breathing issues would then cause sleep-apnea [wikipedia.org] related issues.

Another thing I would like to see here is the "depth of sleep", such as REM, etc. If the gene actually modifies it so that the mice hit an optimal sleep depth more quickly, that might more sense. I've often found that if I consistently go without enough sleep I get sluggish, but sometimes if I really wear myself down, stay up really late, and then hit the sack when I'm just about ready to drop, I sleep *EXTREMELY* deeply and feel more rested on 3-4h of sleep than 7-8 hours. On people that get by very well on low sleep, I'd be willing to bet they measure a noticeably different EEG frequency (and possibly other factors such as blood-oxyen level), with a pattern more like a sharper curve towards deep sleep.

This would indicate a "quality" issue rather than a quantity. It would also make sense in an evolutionary sense. Yes, longer sleep means perhaps a longer duration of potential vulnerability, but a longer less-deep sleep be trading depth for recoverability.
E.G. if a large predator comes stomping up when you're at level 5/10 sleep, then you have a good chance of waking up and getting the f*** out of there even though you're out for approx 8h. Alternately, if you're out for a 3h super-nap, and at 9/10 depth for most of that, perhaps the potential for being gobbled up during that period is greatly increased?

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069745)

Not necessarily. For a mutation to spread throughout the population it has to give its host a greater chance of breeding. People who sleep less may be able to achieve more in their lives, but it doesn't obviously follow that they will have more children. Even if they have 10% more children, on average, than people without the mutation, then it will take a very long time for this mutation to spread to the majority of the population (and that's assuming that the children all inherit the gene...).

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069977)

People who sleep less may be able to achieve more in their lives, but it doesn't obviously follow that they will have more children.

If there are no negative side-effects, sleeping less would easily have advantages in survival against predators and war. Until the onset of civilization, death of a parent would almost certainly result in death of any young children.

Even if they have 10% more children, on average, than people without the mutation, then it will take a very long time for this mutation to spread to the majority of the population[...]

1.1 ** 8 = 2.1435, so it would take less than 8 generations, or about 160 years at a generation every 20 years. That is not a long time in evolutionary terms.

Evolution selects for breeding characteristics (1)

realmolo (574068) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069829)

Sleeping less doesn't increase your odds/ability to reproduce (at least, not significantly).

There is a mistaken idea about natural selection that it will always take any traits that are objectively "good". It doesn't. Only traits that can improve/reduce your ability to reproduce are affected. Any traits that don't affect the ability to reproduce tend to stick around forever, regardless of their perceived advantage/disadvantage.

Re:Evolution selects for breeding characteristics (1)

hoggoth (414195) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069949)

I'm pretty sure that being able to hunt, farm, build, and look out for predators for an extra few hours every day would enable you to stay alive long enough to reproduce more than the average cave man.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1)

argStyopa (232550) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069901)

It's not the advantage you think.

Lowered survivability in the long term offsets the superficial advantages.

I've never needed more than about 4 hours of sleep a night, my wife is a mess if she gets less than 8.

I can say from my field experiments, that some days (particularly where we both only get about 5-6 hours, but it's REALLY evident after several nights of short-sleep due to babies or whatever) she's far more likely to murder me.

Even if she doesn't kill me, the likelihood that my progeny will survive or that I'll get another chance to mate anytime soon is far, far lower...of course after 20 years together you get asymptotic numbers approaching zero ANYWAY but that's another post....

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1)

jacktherobot (1538645) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069511)

We would need a sample set much larger then 2 to draw any meaningful conclusions. We'll probably have to wait fro the mouse studies to answer your questions.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1)

maxwell demon (590494) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069669)

We would need a sample set much larger then 2 to draw any meaningful conclusions.

We'll probably have to wait fro the mouse studies to answer your questions.

The mice are also studying this? Then is must be related to the ultimate question.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069571)

There was little benefit to being awake at night before artificial lighting and it costs calories to be awake instead of sleeping.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (3, Funny)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069601)

Uh... perhaps it's simply that it's beneficial to sleep (and use less energy) whenever you're not doing anything else? We sleep for about 8 hours because in equatorial Africa, there's about 8 hours of darkness when us vision oriented fruit-and-vegetarians monkeys can't find anything to eat or screw - I mean, who likes waking up in the morning next to a half eaten poison pear, or worse yet, a fugly skank monkey?

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (2, Interesting)

omfglearntoplay (1163771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069613)

Yeah, those thoughts were the first that came to mind. Sleep is a big deal for so many proven reasons and so many slightly understood reasons. But I guess one reason we'd sleep for so long would be to conserve energy in a more natural environment with limited food.

My wife's immune system seems to be ridiculously strong, but maybe it's partly due to the fact that she always gets plenty of sleep and if she starts feeling slightly sick she sleeps an extra couple of hours that night/day.

Regarding the vulnerable state of sleep aspect, I've often wondered if snoring kept some of the nasty animals away at night. Then again, even my cat snores sometimes and cats probably could hear a hair fall. And back to humans, I always wondered if the early risers helped protect the late sleepers, and late the bed types helped protect the ones that slept early.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (2)

NewbieProgrammerMan (558327) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069689)

You would think it performs pretty important functions (or did perform) for the 5 percent of short sleepers not to collect more food and proliferate more efficiently and more frequently than the other 95% 8 hour sleepers.

I suspect that our current sleep requirements are the product of balancing a lot of trade-offs, and it might not be wise to tamper with it (any more than we already do with coffee and alarm clocks) until we know what more of those trade-offs are. I'm sure there's some dystopian fiction waiting to be written about engineering ourselves into a state where the species wouldn't be viable in the natural world any more.

Of course, I rather like the idea that laziness and/or the desire to sleep in has some underlying real benefit, so I'm biased towards caution when changing such things. :)

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069821)

It could be a recent mutation which has not had the opportunity to propagate substantially. (How many hours a day do primates sleep?)

I imagine something like this would, like most mutations, be regressive, and therefore take a fairly long time to reach critical/substantial momentum.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (2)

evilviper (135110) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069879)

You would think it performs pretty important functions (or did perform) for the 5 percent of short sleepers not to collect more food and proliferate more efficiently and more frequently than the other 95% 8 hour sleepers.

A primitive human is highly unlikely to be ABLE to gather food after it gets dark, no matter how awake and alert he may be. Darkness is like that. Not to mention that there aren't many nocturnal big game species anywhere in the world even after fire had been discovered.

So, since you aren't gathering food very well, you're WASTING IT by being AWAKE, rather than in your 8 hours of hibernation.

Sure, at the very low latitudes, it might be beneficial, but for the majority of the human population, a shorter sleep period would probably be wasted.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (2, Interesting)

Fallingcow (213461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069913)

Anectdote:

A friend of mine feels fine on 5 hours a night, and can do that indefinitely. 6 is a really, really restful 9 to him. He can't even force himself to do 8 hours unless he's been up more than 24. Sounds about like the people in the study--no coffee or anything like that necessary, he simply doesn't need or even want more sleep than that.

Bastard gets so much done. It's amazing how much extra reading/video-game-playing/movie watching you can get done with an extra 2-3 hours every day, in the early morning or late at night when no-one's awake to bother you. Irritates his wife, though, because she wants him to go to sleep when she does (early), so his "bonus" time for the last year or so has shifted from being late at night to early in the morning. He just gets up way earlier than she does.

He's got a crazy-fast metabolism, and he's a bit on the short side (5'5" or so). No signs of his sleep patterns changing nor his metabolisms slowing yet, but he's only 24, so who knows. Smart as hell, as in top 2-3% of the population smart.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1)

elashish14 (1302231) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069959)

Or it could be that they have other mutated/different genes that somehow circumvent these issues. The more genes you'd need to pass on, the harder it would be to pass it on and become the norm.

I suppose if they have kids, they would provide some answers if they consented to DNA testing and study.

Re:Presence of Restoration Effects in These Subjec (1)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069975)

I'm not saying that I have the mutation, but I rarely need more than 6 hours of sleep each night.

That's not some self-imposed deprivation. It's just the way I'm wired and I've been that way my whole life.

My immune system seems to be great. I rarely get sick, even when others around me are dropping like flies from the flu or whatever bug is going around.

I have a highly suppressed metabolism. Too much so. I have to constantly live on a calorie starved diet and I have to get, at least, 90 minutes of vigorous exercise each day. If I don't, I put on weight quite fast.

I don't seem to have any signs of accelerated aging, in fact, most people guess I'm younger than I am.

My memory seems to be about average. Learning comes pretty easy... for stuff I'm interested in ;-)

I have a high muscle mass, but that may have more to do with my exercise regimen than anything else.

All-in-all, it's not a bad problem to have. I have to make some sacrifices that I wish I didn't. When all my friends are going out to lunch every day, I'm in the gym. Also, about once or twice a month I suffer from insomnia; maybe getting only a couple of hours of sleep. When this happens, (sometimes, but not always) I notice a performance hit the next day. However, assuming I get my regular 6 hours the next night, I recover quickly.

Age related? (4, Interesting)

infinite9 (319274) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069381)

I wonder what their sleep patters were like when they were teenagers. When I was in high school, I needed at least 10 hours, and preferred 12. Now that I'm almost 40, I can easily operate on 3 or 4 hours, routinely get 6, and sleeping in on saturday is 8 or 9.

Re:Age related? (2, Interesting)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069505)

How much caffeine do you drink per day? I think a lot of the disparity is due to the fact that we (rightly) keep younger people from using caffeine and other stimulants.

The researchers in the article specifically pointed out that though a lot of people regularly get by with 6 hours of sleep, they do this using stimulants, not an innate propensity for less sleep.

Re:Age related? (1)

an unsound mind (1419599) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069823)

I get 100mg-200mg of caffeine every day - and have since age four - and I still slept for 8-10 hours.

Nowadays I sleep 12-16 hours (with the same amount of caffeine), but that's caused by an illness.

Re:Age related? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069619)

I may not be 40, yet, but it seems to be the opposite for me. Back in high school I routinely got between 3 and 5 hours of sleep and was perfectly fine (well, as fine as any high schooler), but now that I am nearly done with college, I find myself needing 6-8 hours of sleep every night before I go to work or school, and sleep 8-10 hours on weekends.

Of course, I could be the weird one, here, I suppose.

Re:Age related? On/Off Switch? (1)

Maladius (1289924) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069637)

I've personally noticed the opposite effect. When I was younger I could get by with 5 hours of sleep with no problem. Somewhere along the line I started requiring much more, and can now barely wake up if I don't get at least 7 hours. It would be nice if someone could just flip a genetic switch and make it so I can again only get by with 5 hours....assuming there aren't any nasty side affects that these women experience. The doctors say they seem healthy...but who knows in the long term.

Re:Age related? On/Off Switch? (2, Insightful)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069759)

Have you been checked for Sleep Apnea. I seem to remember seeing results from a study that up to 40% of the worlds population might have it to some degree or another.

I have Mild Sleep Apnea which means I don't warrant an expensive C-PAP machine but I do wear an oral device to help keep my airway unrestricted. A friend of mine has Severe Sleep Apnea and he has to use a C-PAP or he'll sleep for 12+ hours and still be exhausted.

Even with my device I pretty much never wake up feeling refreshed though. It's always a drag to get out of bed and get going, unless there is something I am very excited about doing that day.

Did anyone else read the title as... (1)

thewiz (24994) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069395)

"Genetic Mutation Enables Less Sheep"?

Re:Did anyone else read the title as... (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069417)

Briefly, yes. Hehe.

Re:Did anyone else read the title as... (1)

the_other_chewey (1119125) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069831)

Did anyone else read the title as... "Genetic Mutation Enables Less Sheep"?

Y-e-e-e-e-e-s.

no thanks (2, Interesting)

pak9rabid (1011935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069403)

Yeah that's just what we need; a legitimate excuse for employers to work people more.

Re:no thanks (1)

jvillain (546827) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069771)

Just what I was thinking.

Jolt (3, Funny)

NES HQ (1558029) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069463)

Can we call it the Jolt Cola mutation?

They *feel* they had enough sleep (3, Interesting)

drunken_boxer777 (985820) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069465)

They ... found a mother and daughter who were naturally short sleepers. The women routinely function on about 6 hours of sleep a night; the average person needs 8 to 8.5 hours of sleep.

âoeWhen they wake up in morning, they feel they have slept enough,â Dr. Fu said.

These women feel they've had enough sleep, but that doesn't mean that they are fully rested and recovered from their previous day's activities. While I don't have access to the journal article, I would be interested in seeing whether mice or flies with the homologous mutation have shorter life spans or other problems that accrue over longer periods of time.

This Guy Hasn't Slept for 30 Years (5, Interesting)

juancnuno (946732) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069475)

Thai Ngoc [wikipedia.org] or Hai Ngoc (born 1942) is a Vietnamese insomniac.

6 hours unusual? (4, Interesting)

citylivin (1250770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069477)

"They then worked back to find out who provided the samples and found a mother and daughter who were naturally short sleepers. The women routinely function on about 6 hours of sleep a night; the average person needs 8 to 8.5 hours of sleep."

A great documentary about this subject was from the Horizon program, entitled The Secret Life of Your Bodyclock [bbc.co.uk] . One of the things that they stated was some peoples body clocks run on different cycles. I believe they had examples of a 32 hour "day" clock and a 22 hour one and the differences that this placed on the subjects.

The comment that i wanted to make was that there are probably lots of people who do not fit into the 24 hour lifestyle that we are forced into. The secret life of your bodyclock was very eye opening. They had all sorts of great stats on why you shouldn't exercise in the morning, that you should always consume alcohol between 6-8pm (local time) and a great section on why teenagers hate getting up. Its well worth the watch if you can find it somehow.... [mininova.org]

Re:6 hours unusual? (1)

KozmoStevnNaut (630146) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069817)

why you shouldn't exercise in the morning

Now I'm very curious. Everything I've read indicates that morning excercise is a great idea, especially since cardio work on an empty stomach helps burn fat and kick starts your metabolism for the day. It seems to work great for me.

Perhaps I'll give that documentary a watch, it sounds interesting.

Da Vinci (2, Interesting)

thefringthing (1502177) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069493)

Maybe ol' Leonardo had this. I hear tell of him sleeping only in short bursts so he could have more time to do awesome shit.

The 8 Year Club (1)

under_score (65824) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069497)

I was really interested in sleep stuff when I was in college. A bunch of friends and I started a club called the "8 Year Club". We figured out that if we could train ourselves to work with just 4 hours of sleep per night, we could gain back 8 years of extra "life". We were really excited about this and figured that if we could support each other, we'd be able to get through the tough part and make it a real habit in our lives. We stopped after about a week.

Re:The 8 Year Club (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069819)

I remember reading something in my Psychology class in college where some study showed that a person could get by on four hours of sleep a night. That is provided that they properly trained their system to rapidly fall into REM sleep patterns. One of the details I remember was that the subjects had to slowly work their sleep time down, a minute or two at a time. Trying to do it suddenly didn't seem to work and led to plenty of bad side affects of sleep deprivation.

Let Me Guess... (3, Funny)

lobiusmoop (305328) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069501)

The 2 people with the mutation work as a movie projectionist and a banquet waiter in a luxury hotel.

Sign me up! (2, Insightful)

BrookHarty (9119) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069553)

I have a co-worker who only needs 4 hours, He was actually studied in college for health issues, its amazing how much this guy can get done when only needs 4 hours sleep. Also beats the commute into work by coming in really early, while the rest of us are sleeping.

Myself, 9 is good for me. I'd love to be able to only need 4 and wake up wide awake and in good health.

As long as my boss doesnt make me work 16 hour days, sign me up.

Re:Sign me up! (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069767)

How old is he now? Who knows how his body will react when he's 50 or 60?

Regarding the commute, anyone can do that, more or less. Just need to go to bed 4 hours earlier. ;)

I for one... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069557)

...welcome our new mutant, insomniac overlords.

In the film industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069573)

we called it the "Deadline Gene".

I must be a mutant... (2, Interesting)

joeyblades (785896) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069575)

I regularly rely on less than 6 hours of sleep per night
with generally no impairment in waking function.

I've been like this my whole life.

Sleep is an addiction (1)

Twinbee (767046) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069677)

Bah, if only people realised that sleep was an addictive habit and could be eliminated altogether through sheer willpower alone! My years of research provide 140% proof of that:

http://www.skytopia.com/project/articles/sleep.html [skytopia.com]

My name is Hiro Nakamura ... (3, Funny)

Lemming Mark (849014) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069693)

... I have the power to control time - bedtime!

Sleepless fruit! (2, Funny)

dmdavis (949140) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069733)

Due to a well-placed line-break, I saw in the summary: "the shortened sleep effect was replicated in mouse and fruit." That really had me wondering how on Earth they tested this.

Add it to coffee and.... (1)

Farlan (1145095) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069753)

I'll have a large with an extra dose of non-sleepy genes!

Boring, already done! (5, Funny)

SolarStorm (991940) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069765)

The genetic mutation is called children. Guarentees less sleep for the parents.

Psychological effects (1)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069773)

What about the psychological effects of this? If you dont sleep, you lose the benefit that dreams provide, where your mind can work through things and problems you may have in your waking life. If you dont sleep, or dont sleep enough, these problems never get worked out. We evolved this way for a reason and, unless they want to medicate people even more, could cause some serious psychological issues.

Re:Psychological effects (1)

Whorhay (1319089) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069911)

Not all of our time sleeping is spent in the important parts of sleep. Or at least as far as we understand it only about half of our sleep time is spent in stages that are necessary for our body and mind to recuperate. If you can train your self to sleep soundly and get in all your stage cycles with enough time in the deeper cycles four hours should be enough.

solved!!! (1)

ivogan (678639) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069855)

We already know what the mutation is that allows some humans to feel refreshed on less hours of sleep than others... it's called leading a healthy lifestyle. Regular exercise and eating healthy, real food (not the food-like substances we buy off the store shelves in boxes), will solve so many health problems of today. Alas, that is exactly what the "food" manufacturing giants and the pharmaceutical companies DO NOT want people to figure out. That might cut into their profits.

Let's see if it also enables "less IQ". (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069873)

Because from what I have seen, this is a non-circumventable rule.

Also I would recomment long-term checks (20 years minimum) for becoming crazy, dumbing down, other health issues, or just being less clear in the brain in the long term.

What a crappy "super power"! (1)

Zantac69 (1331461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069883)

I mean, most of us had some fantasies about having a Wolverine-like healing factor, the ability to fly, the ability to control the weather, or something cool like that.
Cant you just imagine the following:

Professor X: I know you think you are unique - that noone understands you - but we all have special powers. Come with us and we can teach you how to use your powers for good and to help your fellow mutant and mankind.
Insomnia: You mean there are others that only sleeping a few hours per day?
Professor X: Yes - you are not...wait. Jean...dont tell me we flew...
Jean Grey: I know Professor...I...I guess I got confused.
Professor X: Shut up and get on the plane. Kid - sorry - go back to staying up late and playing World of Warcraft until 3AM every night...and if we need you, we'll call you.
Insomnia: But...I thought I would get a suit and everything... /cry

read Beggars in Spain (2, Interesting)

Werrismys (764601) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069891)

Read Beggars in Spain.
What if, suddenly there were ppl with practically 33% more lifespan? More time every day to train sports, science, whatever - even work? No chance one of them attending chess games, olympic games or similar.

It would lead to them being outcasts as long as they were in minority.

Or without genetic alteration... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29069893)

It's called Crystal Meth! Get a life and vacuum my whole house please.

It's not really all that special (1)

Dogbertius (1333565) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069937)

As a kid I usually only got in 7 per night, since I was usually up at 5 to watch early morning cartoons, plus it was the only time the Megaman and Darkstalkers cartoons played. Ever since starting university, I'm fine on 4-5 hours per night for months on end. The only thing that hampers that is, of course, hangovers. :)

Only two with the Genetic Mutation found? (1)

sxedog (824351) | more than 4 years ago | (#29069983)

I have two in my house. Say hello to my 4 and a half year old and my 18 month old. I wonder what they'd pay to put them in a study?
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