THE MOLECULE OF SLEEP

Hi greetings to the first blog post of Addie. Being heavily sleep deprived and tired most of the time, I’m interested to find out more about the mechanics of sleep.

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220px-Adenosin.svgIn the past, it has buffered scientist on how our brain decides when to sleep. Some of these mysteries have been demystified when studies of mice were subjected to caffeine. The study showed that brain cells namely astrocytes promotes the body to sleep by the secretion of adenosine. These effects can be inhibited by caffeine. However, the greater the duration the animal is awake, the urge of sleep just grew stronger.
130924091323_1_900x600Scientist has coined this as sleep pressure and previous studies had shown that adenosine triggers for sleep pressure. In a typical day, adenosine will accumulate during the timing when our body is awake and during the later part of the day, these high levels of adenosine helps to promote unique patters of brain activity suited for sleeping.

Furthermore, these studies performed in Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston, showed how a non-neuronal cell in the brain being able to exert an influence on our behaviour. Other research teams found great potential in the study in developing drugs for inducing sleep. This is because, astrocytes do not produce biological signals through electrical signalling as compared to neurones. This allow astrocytes to better support cells.

With improvements in genetic medicine and the field of epigenetic, other research groups are exploring ways to flipped the genetic switch in order to suppress the release of adenosine. Through vigorous lab testing, some of these groups found that adenosine subjected mice do not require much compensatory sleep once they are sleep deprived. Hopefully, with greater advances in such technology and genetic medicine, we could finally escape from being sleep deprived and have more time to do things we enjoyed.

Reference

Porkka-Heiskanen, T., Strecker, R. E., Thakkar, M., Bjørkum, A. A., Greene, R. W., & McCarley, R. W. (1997). Adenosine: a mediator of the sleep-inducing effects of prolonged wakefulness. Science, 276(5316), 1265-1268.

Basheer, R., Strecker, R. E., Thakkar, M. M., & McCarley, R. W. (2004). Adenosine and sleep–wake regulation. Progress in neurobiology, 73(6), 379-396.

Ticho, S. R., & Radulovacki, M. (1991). Role of adenosine in sleep and temperature regulation in the preoptic area of rats. Pharmacology Biochemistry and Behavior, 40(1), 33-40.

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