Think you need less sleep than most people? Maybe you have the ‘Margaret Thatcher’ gene
Throughout history, as well as recently, there have been many extremely productive and successful individuals who have claimed they are able to function on much less sleep than the average person. And according to a new study some of them may actually be genetically wired to get by on fewer Z’s. If you count yourself among their ranks as a short sleeper, then maybe you’re wired the same way.
During a recent sleep study of 100 pairs of twins, researchers discovered that some of the participants still functioned well after an extended period of sleep deprivation. Upon closer inspection the researchers found that those that needed much less sleep to function, all shared the same genetic mutation in p. Tyr362HIS, a variant of the BHLHE41 gene. While most people need between seven and eight hours of sleep to count themselves as healthy, productive members of society, these twins, and those that share the mutation, not only need less than that, but they also need less time to recover from sleep deprivation than other people.
Over the years many politicians, celebrities and artists have boasted and their short sleep patterns, often credited the additional waking hours to their success. Perhaps most famously, Margaret Thatcher claimed to sleep for a mere four hours, which is why the quest for this particular gene has often taken her name. Others include: Napoleon Bonaparte (three to four), Winston Churchill (five), Leonardo Da Vinci (five), Bill Clinton (five to six), Madonna (four), Martha Stewart (two to four) and Donald Trump (three to four).
Still count yourself among the chosen sleep “less” ones? Well, not so fast. As it turns out the genetic mutation in p. Tyr362HIS may actually be pretty rare. According to other sleep studies, out of 100 people who claim they can get by on less than six hours of sleep a night, only 5 of them are current.
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, a pretty reliable source on the subject, most of us need at least 7 hours of quality sleep each night. Less than six hours and it starts to effect proper brain function, which can lead to problems in logical reasoning, concentration and even depression.
So, unless you need just one less hour of sleep tonight to solve world hunger or create your masterpiece, chances are you’re better off waiting until tomorrow and getting a good night’s sleep tonight.