Wednesday, April 06, 2011

The Sleepless Elite

People are sending me this article about "short sleepers" – people who function normally on 4-5 hours of sleep – saying it's me, but alas it's not so.  Yes, I fit the description of being upbeat, thin, a multi-tasker, etc. but I actually need (and get) about seven hours of sleep a night.  I'd pay a HUGE amount of money to be able to function well on even an hour less sleep!  The only short sleeper I know for sure is Wendy Kopp (and I'd put Joel Klein in the "probable" category, based on the crazy hours at which he returns emails!).

To date, Dr. Jones says he has identified only about 20 true short sleepers, and he says they share some fascinating characteristics. Not only are their circadian rhythms different from most people, so are their moods (very upbeat) and their metabolism (they're thinner than average, even though sleep deprivation usually raises the risk of obesity). They also seem to have a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks.

"They encounter obstacles, they just pick themselves up and try again," Dr. Jones says.

Some short sleepers say their sleep patterns go back to childhood and some see the same patterns starting in their own kids, such as giving up naps by age 2. As adults, they gravitate to different fields, but whatever they do, they do full bore, Dr. Jones says.

"Typically, at the end of a long, structured phone interview, they will admit that they've been texting and surfing the Internet and doing the crossword puzzle at the same time, all on less than six hours of sleep," says Dr. Jones. "There is some sort of psychological and physiological energy to them that we don't understand."


The Sleepless Elite

Why Some People Can Run on Little Sleep and Get So Much Done

·         By MELINDA BECK

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