Mending the circuitry of a cellular stress response pathway might help in altering sleep patterns of senior citizens, say scientists who are close to finding the cure to sleeplessness in old age.
The researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, who have been studying the molecular mechanisms underpinning sleep in fruit flies, used a video monitoring system to compare the sleep habits of "young" and "aged" fruit flies.
The study revealed that aged flies took longer to recover from sleep deprivation, slept less overall, and had their sleep more frequently interrupted as compared to younger control animals.
According to the researchers, adding a molecule called PBA that promotes proper protein folding mitigated many of those effects, effectively giving the flies a more youthful sleep pattern.
Nirinjini Naidoo, PhD, associate professor in the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology and the Division of Sleep Medicine, who led the study Marishka Brown, PhD, said that PBA "consolidated" baseline sleep, increasing the total amount of time slept and shifted recovery sleep, after sleep deprivation.
The study was published in the journal Neurobiology of Aging.