Genetics may determine whether you can run on three hours of sleep a night, as Donald Trump famously claims to do, or if you’re useless with less than eight, a new study suggests.
We don’t know exactly why we need sleep, but we do know that every animal needs some amount of sleep.
Everyone is supposed to get at least seven hours of sleep a night, according to the CDC, but that just doesn’t seem to be possible for the 40 percent of Americans who are reportedly under-slept.
National Institutes of Health researchers found that the difference between long-sleepers and short sleepers may be simply genetic, according to their study of flies.
Donald Trump (left) and Rihanna (right) claim to sleep only three and four hours a night, respectively. New research suggests their short nights may be genetic
Guidelines on sleep are one-size-fits-all, but some successful people love to draw attention to their ability to not only survive but thrive on little sleep.
Rihanna claims she just can’t sleep more than about four hours a night, binge watching TV instead. Donald Trump and Tom Ford both say that somewhere in the neighborhood of three hours suffice for them.
But new evidence suggests that their sleeplessness are not necessarily a sign of exception genius or drive, but genetics.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) researchers compared the sleep cycles of 13 generations of fruit flies.
They selectively bred each generation’s sleep patterns to be more and more polarized.
Fruit flies are surprisingly genetically similar, and by the end of the selection process, their sleep needs were too, varying from 3.3 hours to 10 hours.
As they bred the flies into Sleeping Beauty and Energizer Bunny extremes, the researchers were able to identify 126 different variations in 80 genes.
That’s a lot of variation and complexity for one behavior, which, the authors write ‘suggests that sleep duration in natural populations can be influenced by a wide variety of biological processes, which may be why the purpose of sleep has been so elusive.’
But that does not mean that all sleep is equal.
‘Very short sleep duration might be difficult to maintain in nature, except when strong selection pressure is present,’ the authors wrote.
The later generations of the short-sleeping flies tended to peter out earlier, indicating that short sleepers like Donald Trump and his children ‘may be less fit,’ evolutionarily, the study authors wrote.