Why Some People Can Function On Less Than 8 Hours Of Sleep Per Night

We're always told about the importance of getting eight hours of sleep each night. But you probably know someone who feels perfectly fine after only six or even less. They might not be exaggerating about how good they feel after a short night's sleep. A recent study published in iScience looked at the current research on Familial Natural Short Sleep (FNSS), which is a trait that allows some people to get as little as four hours of sleep each night without any negative side effects. This trait often runs in families.

The study found that even though people with FNSS sleep for shorter periods of time, they suffer no long-term effects from such a significant lack of sleep. This is because they are essentially able to sleep more effectively and get all the benefits that most people need from at least eight hours in bed. "Our work to date confirms that the amount of sleep people need differs based on genetics," said co-senior author of the study Louis Ptacek, MD. Most people, however, need closer to eight hours of sleep each night.

The importance of a good night's sleep

Unless you have the Familial Natural Short Sleep (FNSS) trait, it is crucial for your health that you get plenty of sleep each night. It is difficult to overstate how important it is to get a good's night sleep every evening. "Many things that we take for granted are affected by sleep," Raymonde Jean, MD, director of sleep medicine and associate director of critical care at St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York City, told Health. "If you sleep better, you can certainly live better. It's pretty clear."

As our bodies prepare to fall asleep at night, they release a hormone called melatonin. This keeps us sleeping until it's time to wake up, which is when the melatonin begins to leave our system (via Sleep Foundation). While we're sleeping, human growth hormone (HGH) is activated in our bodies and allows our muscles, bones, and tissue to regenerate. This hormone also contributes to cell renewal and any physical healing in or on the body. Sleep is essential for our minds and bodies to recharge and prepare for the next day.