In modern society, it is customary to sacrifice sleep: first for kindergarten, then school, college, and ultimately work. In 2015, Oxford University professor Paul Kelly, speaking at the British Science Festival, equated working hours from 09:00 to 17:00 to torture, calling the early rise the most common form of civilized torture. Lack of sleep makes people more obedient, they think worse, feel lethargic and easier to manage, but the complete lack of sleep kills, but scientists don’t know the exact reason. Moreover, prolonged wakefulness kills both humans and animals. The results of a new study on Drosophila flies showed that when Drosophila die of insomnia, the shifts leading to death do not occur in the brain, but in the intestine.
Why does lack of sleep kill?
The first signs of sleep deprivation are well known to everyone: tiredness, difficulty concentrating, possibly irritability or even tired giggling. Far fewer people have experienced the effects of prolonged sleep deprivation, including disorientation, paranoia, and hallucinations. However, a total, prolonged lack of sleep can lead to death. Moreover, while we are joking about this, a widely cited study on rats, conducted in 1989 by scientists from the University of Chicago, showed that a complete lack of sleep inevitably leads to death. But despite decades of research, the main question remains unanswered: why do animals die when they don’t sleep?
Neuroscientists at Harvard Medical School(HMS) revealed an unexpected causal relationship between lack of sleep and premature death. In a study on sleep-deprived fruit flies published in Cell magazine on June 4, 2020, scientists found that death is always preceded by an accumulation of molecules known as reactive oxygen species (ROS) in the intestines.
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When fruit flies were given antioxidantcompounds that neutralize and remove ROS from the intestine, sleep deprived flies remained active and had a normal lifespan. Additional experiments in mice confirmed that ROS accumulate in the intestine with a lack of sleep. The results suggest that animals can indeed survive without sleep under certain circumstances. Moreover, the work will open up new areas of research for a complete understanding of the effects of sleep deprivation.
As lead author told News Harvard GazetteResearch Dragan Rogulya, in the course of the work, the team chose an unbiased approach and looked throughout the body for signs of damage from lack of sleep. Having discovered that it was the gut that plays a key role in causing death, the scientists were surprised. But even more surprising was the fact that premature death can be prevented.
Scientists have long been studying a dream - fundamental, inMuch mysterious phenomenon. Almost every living creature known to science is sleeping or exhibiting some form of sleepless behavior, and lack of sleep is fraught with serious consequences. Numerous studies have revealed a link between regular sleep deprivation and heart disease, type 2 diabetes, cancer, obesity, depression, and many other conditions. The results also showed that prolonged, complete sleep deprivation can lead to premature death in animals. Attempts to find out what is the driver of death due to sleep deprivation, the scientists' attention was riveted to the brain, where sleep is born, but to no avail.
What happens in the gut?
In a study, scientists found thatsleepless fruit flies each time died at the same pace. By studying markers of cell damage and death, the only tissue that really stood out was the intestines. The team also investigated whether ROS accumulates in other animal species. Compared with laboratory mice with the usual sleep / wake regimen, in mice deprived of sleep for five days, the level of ROS in the small and large intestines was increased. In other organs, there were no changes, as in fruit flies.
This is interesting: Scientists measured the consciousness of fruit flies. But why?
To find out if ROS are in the intestinesThe cause of death caused by sleep deprivation, the researchers decided to determine whether preventing the accumulation of ROS can prolong life. Having tested dozens of compounds with antioxidant properties that neutralize ROS, the authors revealed 11 compounds, the intake of which (as a dietary supplement) allowed sleep-deprived flies to have normal or almost normal lifespan. Compounds such as melatonin and lipoic acid have proven to be especially effective in cleansing the intestines from ROS. It is noteworthy that the supplements did not increase the lifespan of flies not suffering from sleep deprivation.
Thus, the accumulation of ROS in the intestine playsa central role in premature death due to lack of sleep; however, many questions remain unanswered. So, the reason why sleep loss causes the accumulation of ROS in the intestines and why it is deadly unknown. Lack of sleep can affect the intestines directly, but a trigger can also occur in the brain. Similarly, death can occur due to damage to the intestines or due to the fact that a high level of ROS has a systemic effect on the body, or because of both.