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Short Sleepers

BBC: Tiny Mutation Found in Short-Sleepers, but the Rest of Us Will Probably Need “Normal” Amounts of Sleep

“…In 2009, a woman came into Ying-Hui Fu’s lab at the University of California, San Francisco, complaining that she always woke up too early. At first, Fu thought the woman was an extreme morning lark – a person who goes to bed early and wakes early. However, the woman explained that she actually went to bed around midnight and woke at 4am feeling completely alert. It was the same for several members of her family, she said.

Fu and her colleagues compared the genome of different family members. They discovered a tiny mutation in a gene called DEC2 that was present in those who were short-sleepers, but not in members of the family who had normal length sleep, nor in 250 unrelated volunteers.”

Mutation in this DEC2 gene allowed individuals to repair cellular damage in the brain, remove toxins and lay down memories more efficiently than the normal population. This means that they are more efficient in sleeping than the normal population. These individuals wake up feeling refreshed and energetic, but may only require up to 4 hours of sleep.

While more research is needed to determine how this gene affects sleep in specific populations, there are things that the rest of us can do to have a more efficient night’s rest:

“…Stanley says that when your body gets used to the time it needs to wake up, it can use the time it has to sleep as efficiently as possible. “Studies show that your body prepares to wake up one and a half hours prior to actually waking up. Your body craves regularity, so if you chop and change your sleep pattern, your body hasn’t got a clue when it should prepare to wake up or not.”

You could also do yourself a favour by ignoring society’s views on sleep, he says. “There’s this social view that short sleeping is a good thing and should be encouraged – we’re always hauling out the example of Margaret Thatcher and top CEOs who don’t need much sleep. In fact, the amount of sleep you need is genetically determined as much as your height or shoe size. Some people need very little sleep, others need 11 or 12 hours to feel their best.””

At Image Dental, we believe that a good night’s sleep is also closely linked to your ability to breathe through your nose (not mouth) during the night. That means having a clear nose, an open airway and reducing inflammatory food. Talk to us to find out more.

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