Sleep is a crucial physiological process for our survival and cognitive performance, yet the factors controlling human sleep regulation remain poorly understood. Here, we identified a missense mutation in a G protein–coupled neuropeptide S receptor 1 (NPSR1) that is associated with a natural short sleep phenotype in humans. Mice carrying the homologous mutation exhibited less sleep time despite increased sleep pressure. These animals were also resistant to contextual memory deficits associated with sleep deprivation. In vivo, the mutant receptors showed increased sensitivity to neuropeptide S exogenous activation. These results suggest that the NPS/NPSR1 pathway might play a critical role in regulating human sleep duration and in the link between sleep homeostasis and memory consolidation.