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.


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.

Anonymous said...

Have you ever considered acupuncture for your insomnia? Acupuncture is a wonderful treatment for insomnia that people don't often think about. I've helped a lot of people with insomnia. Often they fall asleep right then during treatment, but they almost always report getting to sleep faster and staying asleep through the night. You should look for a good acupuncturist in your area.