Wednesday June 19, 2019

Mystery Solved: Why Do You Feel Sleepy When You Are Sick?

The nemuri protein fights germs with its inherent antimicrobial activity and it is secreted by cells in the brain to drive prolonged, deep sleep after an infection.

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The nemuri protein fights germs with its inherent antimicrobial activity and it is secreted by cells in the brain to drive prolonged, deep sleep after an infection.
The nemuri protein fights germs with its inherent antimicrobial activity and it is secreted by cells in the brain to drive prolonged, deep sleep after an infection. Pixabay

Researchers, including one of Indian-origin, have found a gene that acts as a direct link between illness and the need for more sleep.

In a study of over 12,000 lines of fruit flies, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania in the US found the single gene, called nemuri, that increases the need for sleep.

The nemuri protein fights germs with its inherent antimicrobial activity and it is secreted by cells in the brain to drive prolonged, deep sleep after an infection.

“While it’s a common notion that sleep and healing are tightly related, our study directly links sleep to the immune system and provides a potential explanation for how sleep increases during sickness,” said Amita Sehgal, Professor at the varsity.

Without the nemuri gene, flies were more easily aroused during daily sleep, and their acute need for an increase in sleep — induced by sleep deprivation or infection — was reduced.

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Over expression of nemuri increased sleep in bacteria-infected flies and led to their increased survival compared to non-infected control flies. Pixabay

On the other hand, sleep deprivation, which increases the need for sleep, and to some extent infection, stimulated nemuri to be expressed in a small set of fly neurons nestled close to a known sleep-promoting structure in the brain.

Over expression of nemuri increased sleep in bacteria-infected flies and led to their increased survival compared to non-infected control flies.

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Moreover, the researchers, in the study published in the journal Science, noted that an immune cell molecule — interleukin-1 (IL-1) — is implicated in human sleep.  Pixabay

In response to infection, nemuri appears to kill microbes, most likely in the peripheral parts of the fruit fly body, and increases sleep through its action in the brain.

Also Read: Train Your Brain By Following Good Habits Constantly

Moreover, the researchers, in the study published in the journal Science, noted that an immune cell molecule — interleukin-1 (IL-1) — is implicated in human sleep.

IL-1 accumulates after prolonged wakefulness and appears to promote sleep, suggesting that nemuri is a working link between immune function and sleep. (IANS)

Next Story

Unable to Sleep at Night? This One Trick Can Help Advance Snooze Time by 2 Hours

Having a late sleep pattern puts you at odds with the standard societal days

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Sleep, Night, Trick
Such changes can also lead to improved performance in the mornings. Pixabay

Researchers have found that a simple tweak to the sleeping patterns and maximising outdoor light during the mornings for a period of three weeks can help night owls — people with extreme late sleeping and waking habits – bring forward their sleep/wake timings by two hours.

Such changes can also lead to improved performance in the mornings, better eating habits and a decrease in depression and stress among people with late sleeping habits, showed the findings.

The study, published in the journal Sleep Medicine, showed that it was possible to shift the circadian rhythm of ‘night owls’ using non-pharmacological and practical interventions.

“Having a late sleep pattern puts you at odds with the standard societal days, which can lead to a range of adverse outcomes – from daytime sleepiness to poorer mental wellbeing,” said study co-author Andrew Bagshaw from the University of Birmingham in the UK.

Sleep, Night, Trick
A simple tweak to the sleeping patterns and maximising outdoor light during the mornings for a period of three weeks can help night owls. Pixabay

The researchers wanted to see if simple things could solve this issue.

In an experiment with a small group of participants that spanned for three weeks, the group were asked to wake up two-three hours before regular wake up time and maximise outdoor light during the mornings.

They were also asked to go to bed two-three hours before habitual bedtime and limit light exposure in the evening, have fixed sleep/wake times on both work days and free days and have breakfast as soon as possible after waking up, eat lunch at the same time each day, and refrain from eating dinner after 7 p.m.

“We wanted to see if there were simple things people could do at home to solve this issue. This was successful, on average allowing people to get to sleep and wake up around two hours earlier than they were before,” Bagshaw said.

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“Most interestingly, this was also associated with improvements in mental wellbeing and perceived sleepiness, meaning that it was a very positive outcome for the participants.” (IANS)