Short Sleep Syndrome is a condition that affects a small percentage of the population and is characterized by sleeping for fewer than 6 hours per night. Getting enough sleep is always the goal, but some people can get away with less than the standard 7 to 8 hours per night without any effects. Thankfully, there are ways to determine whether someone is affected by this and, ultimately, use treatments to overcome the issue...
For starters, Andrew Coogan, a behavioral neuroscientist at Maynooth University in Ireland who specializes in sleep, told Live Science that short sleeper syndrome is a real condition. He said, "Short sleeper syndrome is experienced by people who normally have short sleep duration during the night but don't suffer any adverse effects of excessive sleepiness, cognitive impairment or lower mood during the day." However, it appears that genetics play an important role in determining whether someone is a short sleeper or not. The genetic basis of this condition has been studied, and it seems that variations in certain genes may be linked to shorter sleep patterns. For example, the 2019 study, Neuron, found that people with a particular variation in the ADRB1 gene were more likely to be short sleepers than those without it. It's important to note that having this variation doesn't guarantee you will suffer from short sleeper syndrome; it just means you may be at an increased risk for developing it.
It appears that approximately 3-5% of the population suffers from this condition. Moreover, research indicates that men are more likely to experience short sleeper syndrome than women, but there are exceptions to this rule as well. Certain factors, such as lifestyle choices (i.e., working long hours or having multiple jobs), can also contribute to shorter sleeping patterns, regardless of gender or genetics. Coogan further elaborated, "there is no specific test, but a good rule of thumb is that, if on the weekend someone's sleep duration does not get longer, despite having the opportunity to sleep in, then they may be a true short sleeper." Nevertheless, there are several treatments and management strategies available. These include cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medications such as melatonin supplements, and lifestyle changes like exercising regularly and avoiding caffeine late in the day. Additionally, our bedroom environment is conducive to sleep. For instance, keeping technology out can help improve the overall quality of restful sleep.
While not all individuals who sleep fewer than 6 hours per night have short sleeper syndrome, it is important to be aware of the signs and symptoms associated with this condition so that you can seek appropriate care if needed. By proactively managing any underlying issues causing sleeplessness or shortened sleep duration, you can help ensure healthy rest habits now and in the future.