Researchers have discovered a function in a molecule in fruit flies which may help provide an insight into the complicated relationship between sleep and food.
Brandeis University researchers report that sNPF, a neuropeptide long known to regulate food intake and metabolism, is also an important component in regulating and promoting sleep.
When researchers activated sNPF in fruit flies, the insects fell asleep almost immediately, awaking only long enough to eat before nodding off again.
The flies were so sleepy that once they found a food source, they slept right on top of it for days-like falling asleep on a giant hamburger bun and waking up long enough to take a few nibbles before falling back to sleep.
When researchers returned sNPF functions to normal, the flies resumed their normal level of activity, leaving behind their couch potato ways.
The researchers, led by professor of biology Leslie Griffith, concluded that sNPF has an important regulatory function in sleep in addition to its previously known function coordinating behaviors such as eating and metabolism.
The study has been published in the journal Neuron.