Calcium can ensure good night's sleep

Sleep depends on the activity of calcium inside neurons


Ians March 21, 2016
Sleep depends on the activity of calcium inside neurons. PHOTO: PSYCHOLOGIES

TOKYO: Calcium has been known long as good for our bones, but it might also be the key to a good night's sleep, says a new study, unveiling a new theory how sleep works.

The study showed that sleep depends on the activity of calcium inside neurons.

Moreover, it was also revealed that a mechanism regulated by calcium ions is indeed responsible for controlling the sleep duration.

The study, published in the journal Neuron, contributes to the understanding and treatment of sleep disorders like insomania and sleep apnea and other associated neuro-degenerative diseases.

Longer working hours don't kill romance in your life

Over a life time the amount of sleep needed gets gradually reduced, in both animals and humans.

Sleep allows the body to recover from the effects of daily life, such as removing waste products from the brain and restoring the immune system, and may use the time to process experiences and lay down long-term memories.

However, the fundamental reasons for sleep and the mechanisms by which sleep duration is regulated remain largely unknown.

"Although sleep is a fundamental physiologic function, its mechanism is still a mystery," said corresponding author Hiroki Ueda from the University of Tokyo in Japan.

The team developed a computational model of sleep and identified seven genes responsible for causing mice to stay awake or fall asleep.

The research group then tested their predictions against 21 different genetically modified mouse types.

Out of the 21, seven exhibited significant changes in sleep duration.

7 ways your outfit can change your mood

In addition, the research group also showed that the inflow of calcium ions into neurons is required for mice to fall asleep and that pumping calcium ions out of neurons is required for mice to wake up.

"Sleep is one of the most fundamental physiological functions. From flies to humans, it seems that most animals sleep, but we still know so little about the molecular processes by which sleep duration is regulated," Ueda added.

In addition to becoming new molecular targets for sleep drugs, the genes we have identified could also become targets for drugs that treat certain psychiatric disorders that occur with sleep dysfunction, the researchers suggested.

COMMENTS

Replying to X

Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

For more information, please see our Comments FAQ

E-Publications

Most Read