The 8-hour sleep rule ‘is a MYSTERY’

SLEEP is a must for our overall health and well-being and helps us feel refreshed after a long, busy day.

Most people think that 8 hours snooze is the optimal crew size – but experts have said that is not the case.

Experts say you may not really need 8 hours of sleep


Experts say you may not really need 8 hours of sleepCredit: Getty

Official NHS guidelines say adults need between six and nine hours of sleep a night.

But what sets people apart is their difference, and this is everything from the type of work you do to the amount of exercise you engage in each day – all of which can affect your sleep.

However – it’s what lies underneath that really makes a difference when it comes to sleep – not your lifestyle.

Writing in the journal iScience, experts in San Francisco, USA said that it all depends on your genetics when it comes to how much sleep you need.

They say some are ‘good night sleepers’ who exhibit psychological resilience and resistance to neurodegenerative conditions.

These people may only need four to six hours of sleep, experts say.

The discovery, they say, could help lead the way to combat neurological diseases such as epilepsy and Alzheimer’s.

Lead author of the study, neuroscientist Louis Ptacek said: “There is a dogma in the field that people need eight hours of sleep, but our work to date confirms that amount of sleep. The sleep that people need varies based on genetics.

“Think of it similarly to height; there’s no perfect height, everyone is different. We’ve shown that the same holds true for sleep.”

The team has been studying sleep patterns for more than ten years.

They studied people with Familial Natural Shortness of Sleep (FNSS), the ability to be fully functional – and a preference for four to six hours of sleep a night.

The condition runs in families, and the team identified five genes that play a role in efficient sleep.

To gather results, they looked at people who slept well and their risk of diseases like Alzheimer’s.

It’s important to note that this study was done on mice, not humans.


They put mice with certain sleep genes and measured their risk of dementia.

They say they will need to repeat the study in mice with other neurological conditions to understand how improving human sleep might delay disease progression across the spectrum of conditions.

However, they have stated that studying sleep-related genes will be like a ‘thousand-piece jigsaw’.

“Difficulty sleeping is common in all brain diseases.

“This makes sense because sleep is a complex activity. Many parts of the brain must work together for you to fall asleep and wake up.

“When these parts of the brain are damaged, it can make it difficult to fall asleep or get quality sleep.”

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While it will take some time to identify all the genes, they said at least one gene they discovered could be targeted with existing drugs that could be reused.

They add that there is hope that in the next decade they will have new treatments that will allow people with brain disorders to better rest at night.

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