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Up And At 'Em

Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco, have uncovered a new gene mutation that may allow people to get by on less sleep, Scientific American reports.

After reporting in 2009 that they'd identified a gene mutation associated with how much sleep someone needs, the researchers tell Wired they received numerous messages from people who were short sleepers, needing only a few hours of sleep a night. Earlier this year, they reported in Neuron that they'd found a rare mutation in ADRB1 associated with natural short sleep.

The researchers, led by UCSF's Louis Ptáček and Ying-Hui Fu now report in Science Translational Medicine that they sequenced the exomes of a family of short sleepers to identify a point mutation in the neuropeptide S receptor 1 (NPSR1) gene. When they developed a mouse model of this mutation, the researchers found the mice slept less, though did not exhibit memory issues associated with a lack of sleep.

"These people sleep more efficiently," Fu tells Sciam. "Whatever function sleep is doing for us, it takes us eight [hours to feel rested], but it takes them six or four hours. If we can figure out why they are more efficient, we can use that knowledge to help everybody to be more efficient."