Sleeping less makes me older faster

Sleep durationVery little sleep - some can s, other Not

Sleeping just four or five hours a day and staying healthy is possible - but only if you are equipped with the appropriate genetic material.

Some people would probably wish they could get by on as little sleep as Brad Johnson did. The American and some of his siblings are enough to sleep four to five hours a day. Brad Johnson has always slept so little, and he is healthy, fit, productive. He says: He can't sleep for more than six hours, even if he wanted to.

Brad and other short sleepers have also become subjects of study, and in fact researchers have found a certain DNA sequence that looks different in people who get by on little sleep than in those who sleep seven hours or more.

Most Germans sleep between six and seven hours

In Germany, according to a study by Techniker Krankenkasse, 60 percent of all people over 18 years of age state that they sleep six to seven hours. After all, 17 percent get by with five hours of sleep, so Brad Johnson is not alone with his short sleep duration.

"Getting by" with five hours of sleep is one of those things. The questionnaire did not ask whether sleep is enough to feel fit and healthy. Some people actually need to sleep more, but either don't want to or can't.

"I really don't see why you should aim for less sleep."
Christine Blume, sleep researcher at the Center for Chronobiology of the University Psychiatric Clinics Basel

If the ability to get by with little sleep is genetically determined and genetic modifications are now in principle also possible in humans: Could we undergo gene therapy in order to have less sleep?

This has even been done with mice, and in principle this is also conceivable for humans. Only: "I really don't see why one should strive for that," says Christine Blume, sleep researcher at the Center for Chronobiology of the University Psychiatric Clinics in Basel, "Sleep is nice too. Some would even say it's fun."

Sleep less = work more?

On the other hand: We would have more usable hours a day. And it might even work for the individual. But if all people could suddenly get by with less sleep, companies could quickly get the idea of ​​demanding that all people also work more.

In fact, medical therapy that affects the need for sleep could also have a real benefit: For people who need a lot of sleep to stay healthy.

"Our bodies actually know pretty well how long we should sleep. And I think we should just let our bodies rest for that long."
Christine Blume, sleep researcher at the Center for Chronobiology of the University Psychiatric Clinics Basel

Well, it doesn't have to be gene therapy right away. Does simple training work, so just sleep less? Sleep researcher Christine Blume says: In most cases it won't work. But: We can generally take care of our health, i.e. eat well, do sports, avoid stress.

All of this could have a positive effect on the main problems with sleeping: falling asleep poorly and difficulty sleeping through the night. Almost half of all women in Germany state that they are affected. Men tend to sleep a little better.