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They Snooze Less, But They Don't Lose
Date:8/13/2009

m is to find a way to create a drug that would allow people to sleep less.

This could have benefits beyond more wakefulness. Studies have shown that people who sleep an average amount of 30 to 60 minutes below average live the longest, said Dr. Daniel F. Kripke, emeritus professor of psychiatry at the University of California at San Diego.

But genetics are only part of the picture, he said.

"Sleep amounts seem to be determined as much as 50 percent by genetics, and the rest by habits, social and work situations, recreation -- exercise, the Internet and late-night TV -- and environmental factors such as noise and light," he said.

As for the new study, Kripke cautioned that even if the genetic mutation does affect sleep, it's not clear if that helps people who have it. "We do not know if the amount that the people with the variation are sleeping is good or bad for them," he said. "We do not know if the gene effect should be called 'sleep deprivation' or 'enhanced energy.'"

More information

The National Sleep Foundation has more about sleeping smart.



SOURCES: Ying-Hui Fu, Ph.D., professor, neurology, University of California at San Francisco; Daniel F. Kripke, M.D., emeritus professor, psychiatry, University of California at San Diego; Aug. 13, 2009, Science, online


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