Friday, December 28, 2007

Snorting a Brain Chemical Could Replace Sleep

A nasal spray containing a naturally occurring brain hormone called orexin A reversed the effects of sleep deprivation in monkeys, allowing them to perform like well-rested monkeys on cognitive tests. The discovery's first application will probably be in treatment of the severe sleep disorder narcolepsy.

The treatment is "a totally new route for increasing arousal, and the new study shows it to be relatively benign," said Jerome Siegel, a professor of psychiatry at UCLA and a co-author of the paper. "It reduces sleepiness without causing edginess."

The monkeys were deprived of sleep for 30 to 36 hours and then given either orexin A or a saline placebo before taking standard cognitive tests. The monkeys given orexin A in a nasal spray scored about the same as alert monkeys, while the saline-control group was severely impaired.

The study, published in the Dec. 26 edition of The Journal of Neuroscience, found orexin A not only restored monkeys' cognitive abilities but made their brains look "awake" in PET scans.

Both Twery and Siegel noted that it is unclear whether or not treating the brain chemistry behind sleepiness would alleviate the other problems associated with sleep deprivation.
via Wired


Audacious Epigone said...

One-third (or something close to it) is spent sleeping. So much more could be accomplished if there was some way to buy sleep in pill form. Definitely something to keep an eye on.

Fat Knowledge said...

It would be nice to have those extra hours. Sleeping helps with memory and cognitive ability. I am skeptical that they will be able to get rid of the need for sleep without some deleterious impacts, but it certainly would be great if they could.

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