Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Flies suffer from insomnia too

On one of my own frequent sleepless nights, I came across a piece in NewScientist about a newly discovered Drosophila gene: Sleepless.

Normal flies sleep away almost half of each day (tell that to the ones in my kitchen). However, flies lacking Sleepless get by on 2 or fewer daily hours of sleep.
The mutation – in a gene that controls how brain cells fire and now dubbed Sleepless – suggests that, at the most basic level, sleep is caused by a slowdown in certain neurons.

An inability to control these neurons might spell a restless night for animals besides flies
As if the fatigue that comes after a sleepless night isn't enough, the authors point out that the mutant flies also have shortened lifespans and impaired co-ordination, underscoring the importance of a good night's rest. Somehow that won't help me sleep any easier.

The research was published in Science.


4 comments:

Bayman said...

Interesting that a single gene had such a huge impact.

But also, I had no idea flies spent that much time sleeping...

kamel said...

I had no idea flies spent that much time sleeping...

That surprised me as well. It makes me wonder how you determine if a fly is sleeping. They certainly seem constantly active to me - maybe they're just light sleepers.

New York Acupuncturist said...

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