The Sleepy Gene

I’m not asleep -just resting my eyes!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

We’re all familiar with the lure of an afternoon siesta! Could those heavy lids be a result of something other than a big lunch?

Amita Sehgal at the University of Pennsylvania is cracking the code on sleep. She and her team are on the hunt for the biological basis of sleepiness.

The researchers identified a protein that causes sleepiness in fruit flies. To test its effects, they used a device to knock on the fruit fly enclosure overnight. Imagine a jackhammer starting up -over and over -while you’re trying to get your zzz’s in!

The team recorded which flies awoke from the knocking. Result? Flies with MORE sleep protein were harder to wake up

.But that’s not all! They noticed that the sleep protein was ALSO killing bacteria in the flies! The researchers think the protein makes you sleepy so it can get busy fighting infection!

So -caught napping on the job? Sorry boss –it’s for my health!

This script was written with Victoria Lim.