Short-sleepers have a mutation in a gene called DEC2.

Abby Ross is a retired psychologist living in Miami, Florida, USA.

`It’s great to have so much time in the day. I feel like I’m living two lives,` Mrs. Ross said.

People who belong to the natural short-sleeper group like Mrs. Ross never fall asleep or want to sleep in every morning.

The phenomenon of short sleep raises many questions.

Scientific explanation

The Ying-Hui Fu Laboratory at the University of California, San Francisco, USA, in 2009 welcomed a female guest complaining about waking up too early.

Ms. Fu and her colleagues compared the genomes of this woman’s family members.

The research team also created a similar gene mutation and tested it on mice.

Typically, too little sleep or lack of sleep has serious consequences for health, quality of life and longevity.

`Sleep plays a very important role. If you sleep well, you can avoid many diseases and even dementia,` Fu said.

Sleep less but still stay healthy

Why sleep plays such an important role remains a mystery.

`Apparently people with the DEC2 gene mutation can complete this process in a shorter period of time than usual. Their sleep is more efficient than ours,` Fu said.

After the discovery of the DEC2 gene mutation, Ms. Fu said many people came to confirm that they only needed very little sleep each night.

`We didn’t study people with sleep disorders that caused them to sleep less; our subjects were people who didn’t sleep much but still felt healthy,` Fu said.

`They are both full of energy and very optimistic. The desire to enjoy life as much as possible is quite common in them. But we don’t know whether the genetic mutation is related or not, and if so, by what means.`

Genetic mutation causes people to only need to sleep 4 hours a day

Thanks to little sleep, these people often have more time to complete work than normal people.

Psychologist Abby Ross always feels refreshed every time she wakes up.

`That time of the morning, at 5 o’clock, is magical. The space is so quiet and peaceful that people get a lot of work done. I wish more stores were open at that time, but now I can shop

Ross’s unusual sleeping schedule helped her complete college in just 2 and a half years, while also learning many new skills.

At first it took her about 10 minutes.

In three years, Ross completed not one but 37 marathons (more than 42,000 km in length each), averaging one per month, with many running in mountainous terrain.

`I can wake up and exercise before everyone else wakes up and get things done way ahead of everyone else,` she said.

`Those early mornings gave us a very special time together,` she confided.

Shortcuts to improve sleep quality

After the initial research, expert Fu and his colleagues continued to analyze the genomes of many other families that met the conditions for short sleep.

Until this becomes a reality, sleep expert Neil Stanley says there are still ways we can improve the quality of our sleep.

Stanley said, the body will gradually get used to the time it needs to wake up, so it will make the most of the time available to sleep as effectively as possible.

Next, each person should free themselves from society’s assumptions about napping.

`We are often haunted by the example of Margaret Thatcher or genius CEOs who often claim not to need much sleep. In fact, sleep time is a factor influenced by genetics. Some people often sleep very little

He also emphasized that many people think they have a sleep disorder, but in fact, they do not have that disease.

`If we could all identify our sleep patterns and live accordingly, each of us would make a significant difference to the quality of our lives.`