We all know how to get good sleep, but between smartphone addiction, endless Netflix binges, and having one too many drinks before bed, it’s all too easy to stay up too late. Sometimes no matter what you do at night or how much sleep you get, some people feel tired the next day. If you find yourself tired in the mornings despite getting the recommended eight hours of sleep, there might be a genetic basis for your fatigue. According to new research conducted by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), there are certain genes which cause some individuals to need more sleep than others. See? It’s not Netflix’s fault, it’s your parents’. Thanks mom and dad.
To reach this conclusion, researchers bred thirteen generations of fruit flies to produce two distinct groups: those which need around eighteen hours of sleep a day, and those which need only three hours of sleep each day. Both of these groups were created without any type of genetic modification or meddling, implying that there are specific genes which determine how much sleep animals need. Luckily, the amount of sleep each group needed had no effects on their overall health.
According to their publication in PLOS Genetics, the authors believe their research “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.” In other words, a whole host of innate characteristics including one’s genes determine how much sleep you need, not one’s level of daily activity or lifestyle.
While this research might be good news to late sleepers who find an excuse to sleep in whenever possible, this research is only the tip of the iceberg. Further data will need to be collected from human subjects before any definitive conclusions can be drawn. Still, this research should be good news to individuals who always felt like eight hours just isn’t enough. Maybe it’s not because you stayed up all night crushing season six of Star Trek: The Next Generation after all.