|Ren Benavidez |||Aug 05, 2014 04:32 AM EDT|
(Photo : REUTERS/National Human Genome Research Institute/Handout) A DNA double helix is seen in an undated artist's illustration released by the National Human Genome Research Institute.
Researchers reveal that a rare genetic mutation enables some persons to function and work with way less sleep than others.
They said people who have this mutated gene in their DNA are capable of functioning well despite sleeping for shorter hours and having periods of sleep deprivation.
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Previous studies found that the gene DEC2 or BHLHE41 (basic helix-loophelix family member e41) underwent a genetic mutation that allowed a mother and daughter pair to function with only an average of six hours of sleep every night.
Scientists at the University of Pennsylvania recently conducted similar research to determine if there are other variants of this mutated gene.
In their study, scientists studied 100 pairs of healthy, same-sex twins. The sleeping patterns of these twins were monitored.
After a sleep cycle, the twins were subjected to a series of mental tests in a 38-hour awake period.
Subjects that did well on the cognitive test despite being up for hours were those who had a mutation in the p.Try362HIS, a variant of the BHLHE41.
The experiment revealed that not only could these twins function with less sleep, they could also function well despite sleep deprivation.
Dr. Renata Pellegrino, lead author of the study, said the discovery is important because it's the first time it was discovered that BHLHE41 also affects resistance to sleep deprivation.
The study also revealed that only five percent of the world's entire population have the mutated gene in their DNA.
Meanwhile, a study by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) found that having less than the average of seven hours if sleep has detrimental effects on the physiological functions of the body.
Sleep deprivation can cause problems associated with logical reasoning, inability to focus or even depression.
AASM President Dr. Timothy Morgenthaler said the study revealed that sleeping is not just a preference but Is something the body needs in order to function properly.
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