Ever jealous of friends who stay up all night to hammer out that final exam, catch a few hours of sleep, and do it all over again? Or how about those who stay out ’til last call and are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed the next morning? Turns out these superhuman powers may be in their genes.
ABCC9, a genetic factor linked to heart disease and diabetes, may also influence how many hours under the comforter we really need. A recent study analyzed sleeping habits of over 4,000 people throughout Europe and found that short sleepers (snoozin’ as little as four hours a night!) had two copies of a common variant of the ABCC9 gene.
These findings by no means suggest it’s okay for short sleepers to hit the sack at 4 am. While this gene could help explain why some can run on minimal shut-eye, not getting enough sleep can raise blood pressure and increase appetite— dangers that go beyond those tired eyes.
And perhaps we can use this eye-opening study to our advantage. Next time we get reprimanded for sleeping through the morning alarm, give the new “It’s not in my genes!” excuse a try.