New Study Demonstrates Importance of Studying Sleep and Eating in Tandem


Source: The Scripps Research Institute

Summary: A new study offers key insights into possible links between sleep and hunger and the advantages of studying the two in tandem.


Researchers have previously found that caffeine repels Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly often used as a model for studying human genetics). It is believed that plants as an act of defense mechanism produce caffeine to prevent organisms like fruit flies and insects eating them. The fly’s aversion to caffeine did not negatively impact their sleep, as it does in humans. Many humans enjoy a caffeine fix and it is known to stave off sleep through the effect on adenosine receptor. Researchers at The Scripps Research Institute demonstrated a new study linking sleep and hunger and the benefits by studying the two in tandem. The study is published in the journal Nature Protocols.

Fruit Fly Sleep and Feeding

Researchers suspected that the impact of caffeine on a fruit fly (and maybe human) sleep patterns are very complex than a regular single caffeine and receptor interaction. Groups of flies were tested by giving them varying levels of dietary caffeine and observed their sleep patterns for next 24 hours, interestingly found that sleep loss could not be explained just by caffeine intake alone. They believed that sleep loss may be mediated by the changes in the animal’s feeding behavior. Therefore the findings reinforced to study the process of sleep and eating together. This tandem study may lead to the development of therapies to treat disorders like diabetes and obesity.

Dr. Erin Keebaugh, said, “There could still be a pharmacological effect, but there’s definitely dietary inputs to that.”

Keith Murphy said, “We’re hoping that this paper creates a community around the tool and people come up with new uses, If others get on board, this thing could change what a small lab can do.”


More Information: Keith R Murphy et al, “Simultaneous measurement of sleep and feeding in individual Drosophila”, Nature Protocols (2017). DOI: 10.1038/nprot.2017.096


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