By normal human standards, "short sleepers" need hardly any shut-eye: They feel dandy after about four hours of sleep. The Science of Us speaks to Jenn Schwaner, a 43-year-old with a long resume as a court reporter who says she tends to get "about three or four hours, and I never feel tired." She's been unusual—experts figure about 1% of the population consists of short sleepers—ever since she was 3 years old and would get up at 5am with her dad. And now that she has kids of her own, things haven't been much different: While she was married, her husband would sleep during the day and work at night, while she "was up doing all the things I normally did during the day while I was also nursing the baby at night. It was just the way it was. It never bothered me."
A typical schedule now involves getting up at 3am or 4am and spending much of the day taking care of her kids, who include three biological and three foster children. She gets to bed around midnight, she says. "My life is extremely hectic." She says she tends to get stressed rather than tired; the sleeping pattern did, however, apparently take something of a toll on her marriage. With her husband a light sleeper, she would often have to sleep on the couch rather than allow her noises to wake him up. They're now divorced, which was "kind of a relief," she says. Ultimately, "the best thing (about being a short sleeper) is that I have so many more hours in the day to get things accomplished. I still say I wish I had more hours in a day, and I have more hours than most people." Click for the full interview. (Read more sleep stories.)