Researchers who studied 100 twin pairs have identified a gene mutation that may allow the carrier to function normally on less than six hours of sleep per night. The genetic variant also appears to provide greater resistance to the effects of sleep deprivation.

Results show that a participant with p.Tyr362His — a variant of the BHLHE41 gene — had an average nightly sleep duration of only five hours, which was more than one hour shorter than the non-carrier twin, who slept for about six hours and five minutes per night.

The twin with the gene mutation also had 40% fewer average lapses of performance during 38 hours without sleep and required less recovery sleep afterward — sleeping only eight hours after the period of extended sleep deprivation compared with his twin brother, who slept for 9.5 hours.