Is There A Genetic Factor For How Much Sleep You Need?
Everyone knows the importance of sleep for your health. However, in today’s busy and stressful lives, we often tend to neglect and sacrifice the time we spend sleeping. Having a good night’s sleep is just as crucial to our health as eating healthy food and drinking sufficient water. Different people need different hours of sleep to get by on. However, now, new research has shown that the amount of sleep a person needs might have a genetic link. Genetics, in fact, have been found to be an essential determinant of how many hours of sleep you need each night. Let us take a look at whether or not there is a genetic factor responsible for how much sleep you need.
What Does Research Show Regarding Genetic Factor and The Need for Sleep?
A new study undertaken by the Sleep Disorders Center at VA Boston Healthcare System (1) has suggested that the amount of time people spend sleeping is associated with two regions of the DNA.
In the study, researchers looked at data from over 47,000 people of European ancestry, who participated in the studies across Europe, the US, and Australia, as well as 5,000 African Americans. The researching team compared the genetic information from these participants with how long they reported were sleeping during any average night.
The results of the study revealed that there were two regions of DNA that are likely to be related to how long a person tends to sleep in the night.
The first of these two regions on the DNA has been linked with longer than average sleeping times. In earlier studies as well, this DNA region had been linked with a lower likelihood of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as better glucose metabolism.
Due to these results, the researchers were able to draw to the conclusion that the sleep patterns of a person are influenced by genetic differences.
This has been one of the first studies to begin looking at these genetic differences and also their relation to critical medical conditions such as psychiatric disorders and diabetes.
Genetic Mutations and Sleep
Another study has shown that certain types of genetic mutations can also affect the amount of time you need to sleep, as well as the time of day you prefer to sleep at and how your body will respond to sleep deprivation. (2)
For example, people who have a specific genetic mutation can get by just fine with just six hours of sleep, whereas people without this mutation need to have at least eight hours of sleep on average.
Also, people who have other genetic mutations get more negatively affected by sleep deprivation and may also experience deeper sleep than those who are missing these mutations.
Quality of Sleep Also Matters
Apart from your genetics, there are also other factors that affect the amount of sleep you get and how you feel after getting up. One such important factor is the quality of sleep. The fact is that the quality of sleep has a significant impact on how much sleep a person needs.
Consider this, you might sleep for 8 to 9 hours, but if your sleep quality is poor, you will find yourself still feeling tired in spite of getting what is considered to be a sufficient amount of sleep. On the other hand, if you are getting a good quality of sleep, then you can still manage better with less amount of sleep.
There are many research studies that have found that a short sleep duration combined with poor sleep quality can lead to adverse sleep-related effects. (3, 4, 5, 6)
Therefore, not just genetics, but sleeping well is also a factor that needs to be accounted for when you look at how long a person needs to sleep.
Remember that your genetic makeup is not something you can change, and neither is there any practical way of knowing whether you carry one of these mutations or not. Therefore, it is important that you pay attention to the clues your body provides. Watch how you feel after getting up in the morning, and you will automatically be able to determine just how many hours of sleep you need to feel at your best in the morning.
- Wolchover, N. (2019). Busting the 8-Hour Sleep Myth: Why You Should Wake Up in the Night. [online] livescience.com. Available at: https://www.livescience.com/12891-natural-sleep.html [Accessed 31 Oct. 2019].
- Shi, G., Wu, D., Ptáček, L.J. and Fu, Y.H., 2017. Human genetics and sleep behavior. Current opinion in neurobiology, 44, pp.43-49.
- Lou, P., Zhang, P., Zhang, L., Chen, P., Chang, G., Zhang, N., Li, T. and Qiao, C., 2015. Effects of sleep duration and sleep quality on prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus: A 5-year follow-up study in China. Diabetes research and clinical practice, 109(1), pp.178-184.
- Sharma, M., Sawhney, J.P.S. and Panda, S., 2014. Sleep quality and duration–Potentially modifiable risk factors for Coronary Artery Disease?. indian heart journal, 66(6), pp.565-568.
- Tempesta, D., De Gennaro, L., Natale, V. and Ferrara, M., 2015. Emotional memory processing is influenced by sleep quality. Sleep medicine, 16(7), pp.862-870.
- Bassett, S.M., Lupis, S.B., Gianferante, D., Rohleder, N. and Wolf, J.M., 2015. Sleep quality but not sleep quantity effects on cortisol responses to acute psychosocial stress. Stress, 18(6), pp.638-644.