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People who thrive on little sleep are rare

Consumer Reports News: April 05, 2011 05:33 PM

Those among us who naturally need little sleep are few and far between, yet many Americans routinely skip the healthy 7 to 9 hours of sleep that most adults require.

Daniel J. Buysse, the former president of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, told the Wall Street Journal that only five out of 100 people who claim to need just 5 to 6 hours of sleep a night aren't chronically sleep deprived.

A recent study found a gene variation in a mother and daughter who both needed little sleep. The research team is now looking for more gene variations in naturally short sleepers. As of yet, there is no genetic test for short sleep.

You are not technically a short sleeper if you take the opportunity to sleep in on weekends or vacations, and you also don’t count if you rely on caffeine to get you through the day. There is also no way to teach yourself to become a short sleeper, you’ve either got it or you don’t—and most of us don’t.

The Wall Street Journal points out that not only do naturally short sleepers have a different internal clock, they also tend to be upbeat, ambitious, highly energetic and thin with an excellent metabolism. Some studies suggest that short sleepers actually have a mild form of mania called hypomania.

One third of American adults are chronically sleep deprived, getting less than 7 hours of sleep a night, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

For a good night's sleep you should avoid big meals, caffeine and exercise late in the day and go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. Sleeping less than 7 hours a night can increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, obesity, and type 2 diabetes, according to a 2010 analysis.

Click here for more tips on how to get a good night's sleep, and you can also check out our latest mattress report and buying advice.

The sleepless elite [Wall Street Journal]

American Academy of Sleep Medicine

Information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about sleep and sleep disorders.

Maggie Shader

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