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怎样才能每晚只睡4个小时又精力充沛

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The people who need very little sleep
怎样才能每晚只睡4个小时又精力充沛

What would you do if you had 60 days of extra free time a year? Ask Abby Ross, a retired psychologist from Miami, Florida, a “short-sleeper”. She needs only four hours sleep a night, so has a lot of spare time to fill while the rest of the world is in the land of nod.

如果一年能多出60天自由支配,你会干什么?问问阿比·罗斯(Abby Ross)吧,这位迈阿密的心理学家是一位“短睡者”。她每晚只睡4个小时就够了,当整个世界还沉浸在梦乡里的时候,她却多出了很多闲暇时间。

“It’s wonderful to have so many hours in my day – I feel like I can live two lives,” she says.

“每天都有那么多时间真是太好了——感觉就像我能活两辈子一样。”她说。

有的人天生就睡觉很少,你是这样的人吗?
Short-sleepers like Ross never feel lethargic, nor do they ever sleep in. They wake early – normally around four or five o’clock – raring to get on with their day. Margaret Thatcher may have been one – she famously said she needed just four hours a night, whereas Mariah Carey claims she needs 15.

罗斯这样的短睡者从不会感觉昏昏欲睡,也绝不会睡过头。他们很早就起床——通常是早晨四五点钟——每天都渴望开始新的生活。英国撒切尔夫人(Margaret Thatcher)或许也曾是其中的一员——她曾经表示自己每晚只需要睡4个小时,而玛利亚·凯利(Mariah Carey)则号称要睡15个小时。

What makes some people fantastically efficient sleepers, while others spend half their day snoozing? And can we change our sleeping pattern to make it more efficient?

是什么令某些人的睡眠效率如此之高?又是什么令其他人用掉半天时间与周公约会?我们能否改变自己的睡眠状态,让它更有效率?

In 2009, a woman came into Ying-Hui Fu’s lab at the University of California, San Francisco, complaining that she always woke up too early. At first, Fu thought the woman was an extreme morning lark – a person who goes to bed early and wakes early. However, the woman explained that she actually went to bed around midnight and woke at 4am feeling completely alert. It was the same for several members of her family, she said.

2009年,一位女士来到加州大学旧金山分校的一个实验室,向傅嫈惠教授抱怨自己每天都起得太早。傅嫈惠起初以为这位女士只是“百灵鸟型”睡眠模式的极端案例——这种人通常都会早起早睡。然而,这位女士却表示,她其实每天都要等到午夜才会入睡,但凌晨4点就会感觉完全清醒。她还表示,她的家族中有好几个人也存在相同的情况。

Fu and her colleagues compared the genome of different family members. They discovered a tiny mutation in a gene called DEC2 that was present in those who were short-sleepers, but not in members of the family who had normal length sleep, nor in 250 unrelated volunteers.

傅嫈惠和她的同事将这位女士的不同家族成员的基因组进行对比后发现,这些短睡者的DEC2基因中存在一种轻微的突变,而睡眠正常的家族成员却不存在这种突变,另外250名与之无关的志愿者同样没有这种突变。

When the team bred mice to express this same mutation, the rodents also slept less but performed just as well as regular mice when given physical and cognitive tasks.

当该团队在老鼠中培育出相同的基因突变后,这种啮齿动物也会减少睡眠时间,但在相同的体能和认知任务中的表现仍然与普通老鼠无异。

Getting too little sleep normally has a significant impact on health, quality of life and life expectancy. It can cause depression, weight gain and put you at greater risk of stroke and diabetes. “Sleep is so important, if you sleep well you can avoid many diseases, even dementia,” says Fu. “If you deprive someone of just two hours sleep a day, their cognitive functions become significantly impaired almost immediately.”

睡眠过少通常会对健康水平、生活品质和预期寿命产生重大影响,还会导致心情抑郁、体重增加,大幅增加中风和糖尿病的患病风险。“睡眠很重要,睡得好能避免很多疾病,甚至包括痴呆症。”傅嫈惠说,“如果你强迫某人每天只睡2小时,他们的认知能力几乎会立刻受到严重损害。”

But why sleep is so important is still a bit of a mystery. The general consensus is that the brain needs sleep to do some housekeeping and general maintenance, since it doesn’t get much downtime during the day. While we sleep, the brain can repair cellular damage, remove toxins that accumulate during the day, boost flagging energy supplies and lay down memories.

但睡眠为何如此重要至今仍然有些神秘。科学界普遍认为,大脑需要通过睡眠来进行一些日常清理和维护工作,因为它在白天没有太多的“停机时间”。我们睡觉时,大脑可以修复细胞损伤,清除白天积累的毒素,提振萎靡的能量供给,还能沉淀消化各种记忆。

“Clearly people with the DEC2 mutation can do the same cleaning up process in a shorter period of time – they are just more efficient than the rest of us at sleeping,” says Fu. “But how are they doing that? That’s the key question.” 

“很显然,有DEC2突变的人能在更短的时间内完成相同的清理工作——他们的睡眠效率高于普通人。”傅嫈惠说,“但我们如何才能具备这样的能力呢?这才是关键问题。”

Since discovering the DEC2 mutation, a lot of people have come forward claiming to only sleep a few hours a day, says Fu. Most of these had insomnia, she says. “We’re not focusing on those people who have sleeping issues that make them sleep less, we wanted to focus on people who sleep for a few hours and feel great.”

傅嫈惠表示,自从发现了DEC2突变后,很多人都曾对她声称自己每天只睡几个小时。但多数人其实都是患上了失眠症。“我们的重点不是那些因为存在睡眠问题而减少睡眠时间的人,而是虽然睡得少但仍然精神焕发的人。”

A positive outlook is common among all of the short-sleepers that Fu has studied. “Anecdotally,” she says, “they are all very energetic, very optimistic. It’s very common for them to feel like they want to cram as much into life as they can, but we’re not sure how or whether this is related to their mutations.”

傅嫈惠研究的短睡者普遍都很乐观。“有意思的是,”她说,“他们都精力充沛,都乐观向上。他们普遍都希望尽量让生活过得充实一些,但我不确定这是否与他们的基因突变有关。如果有关,二者又是如何关联起来的。”

Ross would seem to fit that mould. “I always feel great when I wake up,” she says. She has been living on four to five hours sleep every day for as long as she can remember.

罗斯似乎就属于这种情况。“我醒来时总是感觉神清气爽。”她说。从她记事起,一直都是每天只睡四五个小时。

“Those hours in the morning – around five o’clock – are just fabulous. It’s so peaceful and quiet and you can get so much done. I wish more shops were open at that time, but I can shop online, or I can read – oh there’s so much to read in this world! Or I can go out and exercise before anyone else is up, or talk to people in other time zones.”

“早晨5点左右的时光真是妙不可言。那段时间宁静而祥和,你可以做很多事情。我希望能有更多商店在那时开门,但我可以在网上购物,或者在网上阅读——生活在这个时代,我有很多内容可看!或者我也可以在别人没起床之前出门锻炼,还能跟其他时区的人聊天。”

Her short sleeping patterns allowed her to complete university in two and a half years, as well as affording her time to learn lots of new skills. For example, just three weeks after giving birth to her first son, Ross decided to use one of her early mornings to attempt to run around the block. It took her 10 minutes. The following day she did it again, running a little further. She slowly increased the time she ran, finally completing not one, but 37 marathons – one a month over three years – plus several ultramarathons. “I can get up and do my exercise before anyone else is up and then it’s done, out of the way,” she says.

得益于这种短睡模式,她只用了两年半就读完了大学,还有很多时间可以学习各种新技能。例如,她的第一个儿子刚刚出生3个星期,罗斯就决定抽出一天早晨围着街区跑步。那一次大概花了10分钟时间。第二天,她又跑了一次,距离稍微长了一些。她逐渐增加了跑步的时间,最终用了3年时间跑完了37个马拉松——平均每个月跑一个——外加几次超长马拉松。“我可以在别人起床之前就开始锻炼,完全不会耽误其他事情。”她说。

As a child, Ross remembers spending very early mornings with her dad, another short-sleeper. “Our early mornings gave us such a special time together,” she says. Now, if she ever oversleeps – which she says has only ever happened a handful of times, her husband thinks she’s dead. “I just don’t lay in, I’d feel terrible if I did,” she says.

罗斯记得,她童年时每天很早就会跟同为短睡者的父亲共度早间时光。“早起让我们可以共同度过这样一段非常特别的时光。”她说。现在,如果她睡过头了(她表示,这种情况只发生过几次),她的丈夫甚至会误以为她死了。“我根本不睡懒觉,睡懒觉会让我感觉很不舒服。”她说。

Take a shortcut

走捷径


Fu has subsequently sequenced the genomes of several other families who fit the criteria of short-sleepers. They’re only just beginning to understand the gene mutations that lead to this talent, but in principle, she says, it might one day be possible to enable short sleeping in others.

傅嫈惠随后对其他几个符合短睡者特征的家族进行了基因组测序。虽然他们才刚刚开始了解创造这种天赋的基因突变,但她认为,从理论上讲,有朝一日或许可以为其他人也赋予这种能力。

Until then, are there any shortcuts to a more efficient night’s sleep for the rest of us? Neil Stanley, an independent sleep consultant, says yes: “The most effective way to improve your sleep is to fix your wake-up time in the morning.”

在此之前,有没有什么捷径能帮助普通人提升晚间的睡眠效率呢?独立睡眠顾问尼尔·斯坦利(Neil Stanley)给出了肯定的回答:“改善睡眠效率最有效的方法就是每天早上都在固定时间起床。”

Stanley says that when your body gets used to the time it needs to wake up, it can use the time it has to sleep as efficiently as possible. “Studies show that your body prepares to wake up one and a half hours prior to actually waking up. Your body craves regularity, so if you chop and change your sleep pattern, your body hasn’t got a clue when it should prepare to wake up or not.”

斯坦利表示,当你的身体习惯了这一作息时间后,就会在需要睡眠时尽可能地提升效率。“研究显示,你的身体会在真正睡醒前一个半小时做好准备。身体渴望有规律的生活。所以,如果你总是改变睡眠模式,你的身体也无法确定应该在何时做好睡醒的准备。”

You could also do yourself a favour by ignoring society’s views on sleep, he says. “There’s this social view that short sleeping is a good thing and should be encouraged – we’re always hauling out the example of Margaret Thatcher and top CEOs who don’t need much sleep. In fact, the amount of sleep you need is genetically determined as much as your height or shoe size. Some people need very little sleep, others need 11 or 12 hours to feel their best.”

斯坦利表示,有意识地忽略社会对睡眠的普遍看法也可以起到帮助。“社会上有一种观点认为睡得少是好事,应当得到鼓励——我们总是把撒切尔夫人和那些睡觉很少的顶尖首席执行官当成榜样。事实上,睡眠时间是由基因决定的,这一点与你的身高和鞋码并无不同。有些人生来睡觉就少,还有的人必须睡上十一、二个小时才能恢复精力。”

Stanley says that a lot of people with sleep issues actually don’t have any problem sleeping, instead they have an expectation that they need to sleep for a certain amount of time. “If we could all figure out what kind of sleeper we are, and live our life accordingly, that would make a huge difference to our quality of life,” he says.

斯坦利表示,很多有睡眠问题的人其实并没有任何问题,只是因为他们给自己的睡眠时间设定了预期。“如果我们都能了解自己属于哪种睡眠类型,据此调整生活习惯,就可以极大地改善生活品质。”他说。
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