Sleep duration

Sleep duration: Cracking the genetic code of your sleep

BioCertica Content Team

Did you know that your genetics can influence whether you are a night owl or an early bird? Your DNA may hold the secret to your sleep duration! Studies suggest that genes may inherit 10 to 40 percent of the variation in sleep duration.

Sleep is equally essential for all of us. Yet, some require more sleep than others. Your DNA might hold the key to why not everyone needs or can cope with the same amount of sleep. 

How much sleep do we need?

The average amount of sleep an adult needs per night is between 7 and 9 hours. However, it is not set in stone. Some cope well with regularly getting less than 7 hours of sleep per night. Others need 9 hours per night to function properly.

Needing more or less sleep than the average person (assuming good health) can be attributed to our genes and subsequent physiology differ. Our bodies aren’t all the same; thus, our physical needs, including sleep, are different. 

Improve the quality of your sleep

The amount and quality of sleep we get are crucial for optimal physical and mental functioning and overall health. If you feel you are getting enough hours of sleep but do not rest well enough, there are a couple of things you can do to try and improve the quality of your sleep:

  • Try to go to bed at the same time every night - routine makes a big difference.
  • Limit your consumption of caffeine and alcohol, especially in the few hours before you go to bed.
  • Make your room as dark, comfortable, cool, and quiet as possible. Decent ventilation is also essential.
  • Put away all your screens at least one hour before bedtime - the blue light messes with your circadian rhythm and hormones.
  • Don’t eat a too big meal before bedtime.
  • Ensure you are getting enough physical activity. 

Danger of not sleeping enough

Although the modern-day norm is to cut back on sleep due to too many other demands, this can have multiple detrimental effects, particularly in the long term. Getting too little sleep has been linked with the risk of many chronic diseases and disorders. 

Not sleeping enough increases the chances of obesity, depression, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes, poor cognitive and physical performance, and may even lead to accidents that may cause disability. 

If your sleep quality is good and you get adequate sleep but still struggle with fatigue, you should visit your doctor. Many factors contribute to our energy levels. 

Knowing how much sleep you get per night based on your genetics is a good starting point for evaluating what may need attention first if you struggle with lethargy. If you want to find your genetic predisposition for sleep duration, you can try out our DNA mindfullness package.

Written by: Jan Vorster M.Eng (Biomedical), B.Eng (Mechanical) 



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