Six Hours Per Night Ok? Might Depend on the Genes


Researchers in Philadelphia say that six hours of sleep per night may not lead to sleep deprivation. New research in the Journal Sleep suggests biology may offer “a promising way out,” especially if a person’s genes aren’t so high-maintenance.

The fundamental question of how much sleep do you need is usually answered with seven or eight hours. If you find yourself needing nine hours to function, or only five and a half, then rework your schedule accordingly. But this ignores the role our genetics play in regulating sleep, and it’s an issue scientists would quickly like to resolve.


“This study emphasizes that our need for sleep is a biological requirement, not a personal preference,” said Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler, president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, in a statement. Morgenthaler was not involved with the latest study, which focused on 100 pairs of twins — 59 monozygotic pairs and 41 dizygotic pairs — and tracked their nightly sleep duration for just over a week.


“This work provides an important second gene variant associated with sleep deprivation and for the first time shows the role of BHLHE41 in resistance to sleep deprivation in humans,” said Dr. Renata Pellegrino, lead author of the study. Pellegrino works as a senior research associate in the Center for Applied Genomics at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.


Source: Pellegrino R, Kavakli I, Goel N, et al. A Novel BHLHE41 Variant is Associated with Short Sleep and Resistance to Sleep Deprivation in Humans. Sleep. 2014

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