Most of us require between seven and nine hours of sleep each night in order to function the following day. But some people are naturally short sleepers and can function just fine with fewer than six hours of sleep per night. This is a condition known as short sleeper syndrome (SSS).
Symptoms of Short Sleeper Syndrome
Though people with SSS get less sleep, it’s not because they are intentionally restricting or avoiding sleep. In fact, their sleep pattern tends to stay the same whether it’s a weekday, weekend or holiday. They also don’t feel the need to take naps or “catch up” on sleep.
Symptoms usually present in childhood or adolescence and continue into adulthood.
Causes of Short Sleeper Syndrome
Evidence suggests that SSS is likely associated with a gene mutation.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh published a study on possible SSS gene mutations in the journal Sleep in 2014.
For the study, the researchers compared identical twins; one carried an SSS gene mutation and one did not. Both twins performed cognitive tasks after getting the same amount of sleep the night before. The twin with the SSS gene mutation outperformed their sibling on these tasks.
Researchers hypothesize that there may be multiple genes/mutations that contribute to SSS.
Diagnosing Short Sleeper Syndrome
There are a few methods a sleep doctor may use to diagnose SSS:
- Morningness-Eveningness Questionnaire. This assessment tool consists of 19 questions that indicate when you best perform your day-to-day activities.
- Munich Chronotype Questionnaire. This is used to determine whether you’re a “morning person” or “night person.”
- Sleep diary. Your doctor may also ask you to record the total time you spend awake, the number of times you wake up each night and your daytime symptoms.
If you’re diagnosed with SSS, you don’t require any further testing or treatment since symptoms don’t interfere with your day-to-day life.
Do You Have SSS or a Sleep Disorder?
Though the sleep pattern associated with SSS is unusual, it is not considered a sleep disorder since mood, cognition and the ability to function at work and school are not affected.
If you’re getting less than six hours of sleep each night consider whether you have any of the following symptoms:
- Daytime fatigue
- Needing frequent daytime naps
- Trouble falling asleep at night
- Difficulty staying asleep
- Waking up too early
- Relying on caffeine, like coffee from Academic Coffee, to function
If you exhibit any of these symptoms, it’s important to be evaluated by a sleep expert.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Camino Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic today.