March 19: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.
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.