We’ve often related the brain to sleep but this new research is challenging the widely-accepted notion. The research has shown that a protein in the muscle can reduce the effects of sleep loss in mice. The findings of the research were published in the journal eLife, which gives a new target apart from brain to devise therapies for people with excessive sleepiness.
"This finding is completely unexpected and changes the ways we think sleep is controlled," said Joseph Takahashi, Chairman of Neuroscience at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in the US.
The research showed how a circadian clock protein in the muscle called BMAL1 controls the length and quality of sleep. The presence or absence of this protein in the brain had little or no effect on sleep recovery however high levels of BMAL1 in the muscles caused quick recovery from sleep deprivation.
Additionally, removing BMAL1 from the muscle severely disrupted normal sleep, causing an increased need for sleep, deeper sleep and reduce ability to recover. The finding may eventually lead to therapies that could benefit people in occupations requiring long stretches of wakefulness, from military to airline piloting, Takahashi said.
"These studies show that factors in muscles can signal to the brain to influence sleep. If similar pathways exist in people, this would provide new drug targets for the treatment of sleep disorders," Takahashi said.
(With IANS Inputs)