Getting the Right Amount of Sleep

Many people function on just a few hours of sleep, knowing what's right for you can make a big difference.
3:00 | 02/24/14

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Transcript for Getting the Right Amount of Sleep
sflmpbts next tonight, all of us sleepless in America. In fact, two-thirds of Americans say they're not getting enough sleep. So, tonight, you're going to meet some peep who say that less than four hours, even one hour is plenty for them. ABC's maria schiavocampo on the secrets of short sleepers. Reporter: Like so many of us, jenn Schwaner is busy. She works as a court reporter, cooks for her daughter's softball team, and fosters babies for the state of Florida. But unlike most of us, she does it all on less than four hours of sleep and she says she's never tired. I feel like I'm living my life rather than sleeping it. Reporter: Her father pat is the same way, he can get by on as little as one hour of sleep a day. I'm not Superman, not an x-man, just -- I feel I'm kind of lucky. Reporter: It's not luck, it's genetics. Researchers call them short sleepers, and say it's because of a genetic mutation. Short sleepers cannot sleep longer than a few hours, even in childhood, waking rested and refreshed. They never use an alarm clock and they rarely yawn, don't need caffeine and no naps. All day long they are very active and optimistic, they are go-getters. Reporter: Research everies say short sleepers are not insomniacs, and they're not sleep deprived, but compress the brain's five stages of sleep cycles into less time. And so far, they haven't found any negative health effects. Famously, bill Clinton, Winston Churchill, Donald Trump, and Martha Stewart, all claim they need little sleep. But researchers estimate less than 1% of the population is made up of genuine short sleepers, though many people think they are. So how do you know how much rest you need? Well, the next time you have several days off, say on vacation -- go to sleep, don't set an alarm, when you wake up, you'll have your answer. Real short sleepers get up after four hours even on vacation. As for me, I gave it a shot. I feel tired, I feel irritable, and just not ready for the day. Four hours is clearly not enough. And take a look at this simple reaction test. Without a full night's sleep, I can't catch this pen at all. But jenn, living on four hours of sleep her entire life, never misses. A night owl, and early bird. Now unfortunately, you can't train yourself to be a short sleeper because it's a genetic thing. You shouldn't try. Because consistent sleep deprivation can E lead to several health problems, including obesity and depression. Okay, thanks so much. When we come back -- got mill snk a big change coming to

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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