Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Scientists uncover "time for bed" molecules


Animals lacking molecules called cryptochromes have abnormal sleeping patterns because their internal biorhythms are disrupted. New research from scientists at Stanford University, the University of North Carolina and SRI International published in the open access journal, BMC Neuroscience shows that mice lacking these molecules also respond differently to sleep deprivation. This suggests that cryptochromes are also involved in sleep homeostasis, the process by which we feel tired after we have been awake for a long time.

Sleep is regulated in mammals in two ways. Firstly, it is controlled by an internal body clock, which in humans makes us feel tired at night and awake during the day. Secondly there is a tendency for animals deprived of sleep to feel tired and sleep longer following prolonged wakefulness. This is due to a process called sleep homeostasis, which tries to maintain a balance between time spent awake and time spent asleep.

Molecules known as cryptochromes are known to be involved in the generation of the natural rhythms of the body clock, but it is not clear if they are involved in the regulation of sleep after a period of wakefulness. Stanford scientists Dale Edgar, Jonathan Wisor and colleagues have now investigated the regulation of sleep in mice that are unable to produce functional cryptochrome molecules.

Mice are a nocturnal species that tend to sleep during the day and be awake at night. Mutant mice that lack the cryptochrome genes do not show a preference for sleep at night, which suggests that their body clocks are broken. To investigate the response of these mice to sleep deprivation the researchers continually woke mice up for six hours with gentle handling or by the introduction of an unfamiliar object into their cage.

The response of the mutant mice to being kept awake was quite different to normal mice. The researchers were able to measure both the intensity and length of non-REM sleep following sleep deprivation by measuring brain waves in a technique known as electroencephalography. After six hours of sleep deprivation normal mice showed a characteristic increase in the duration of sleep as regulated by homeostasis. However, mutant mice lacking cryptochromes did not exhibit increases in the duration of non-REM sleep following sleep deprivation.

These results led researchers to conclude that mice lacking cryptochromes can be used a model organism to gain a deeper understanding about the ways in which sleep is regulated. Further understanding of the process of sleep regulation is exciting as the disruption of normal sleeping patterns is a common symptom in a variety of illnesses ranging from arthritis to Parkinson’s disease as well a being very common in sufferers of depression.

Gordon Fletcher | BioMed Central
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH

nachricht Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark
28.10.2016 | Vanderbilt University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Steering a fusion plasma toward stability

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>