It’s pretty mind-boggling that we spend a third of our lives asleep but scientists still aren’t sure why we do it?
They know it’s important for resetting neural activity memory storage, rejuvenating our bodies, and all sorts of positive benefits.
We all do it, but we don’t really have any conclusive answers on why it happens?
Thanks to genetic research we’re really starting to figure things out on a molecular level.
Do you have a hard time getting a good night’s sleep?
According to scientists, that’s all in your genes or you know one gene in particular.
Researchers in Washington State we are looking for genes that changed expression throughout a sleep-wake cycle and they found one in mouse brains.
FABP7 or Fatty acid binding protein 7
They found that mice who had a mutated or knocked out FABP7 gene slept more fitfully compared to mice with normal genes.
The mutant sleepers were more likely to wake up during the night which is like the worst X-manpower ever.
That suggests that this Gene is required for normal sleep. It’s asleep Gene
Now testing in mice that isn’t enough obviously so they tested this in humans too and they found the same thing.
The US researchers teamed up with scientists in Japan and looked at data of 294 Japanese men who underwent a sleep study.
It turns out that 29 of these dudes slept fitfully and had a mutation on fFABP7.
They also tested fruit flies.
This is the first time researchers have gained this level of insight into something as complicated and mysterious as sleep across different species.
Plus FABP7 is found in astrocytes which are star-shaped glial cells located in the brain and spinal cord.
Astrocytes are kind of like rock stars of the sleep worlds.
They’re potentially responsible for creating that sleepy feeling we all get when our brains are tired or overworked.
Astrocytes secrete adenosine which triggers sleep mode to protect our brains.
So it’s no wonder that a mutated FABP7 found in astrocytes could mess with your sleep.
But not all sleep gene mutations are created equal some can give you an advantage
Are you the kind of person who can work for long hours into the night? Then sleep six hours and wake up feeling completely refreshed.
Good for you a study published by researchers in California found that low sleep but high functioning people can do this
Because they have a mutation in a gene called DEC2.
According to the researchers, people with this gene mutation were just born to need less sleep.
Whatever most brains needed to do over eight hours of sleep Dec 2 brains could do in 6.
This class of efficient sleepers is truly elite.
Only 5% of the population has this mutation.
Scientists are even thinking of designing a whole new class of drugs based on this mutation.
So even though we’re getting close to deciphering the molecular mechanisms behind sleep.
It is still one of the biggest mysteries in our shared experience.