On September 23rd, 2015 we learned about

Genetically designed insects to help your insomnia

All brains seem to suffer without sleep. We’re probably all too used to what sleep deprivation feels like, but even even lowly fruit flies suffer the same problems with disorientation and memory if they can’t get some shut eye. Like us, they also prefer a dark sleeping environment, are kept up by caffeine and sometimes realize they’ve stayed up an extra half hour wasting time on Twitter (well, maybe). This is all great for us, because it makes fruit flies a great species to use as a model and test theories about sleep physiology.

The modeling side of the equation is focusing on issues associated with two types of insomnia. Some people have problems falling asleep at night, while others can go to bed, but often wake up in the middle of the night, and then have a harder time sleeping again, a condition known as maintenance insomnia. Flies can suffer from both types of insomnia, even in specially designed rooms intended for their rest. This isn’t by chance, but thanks to the flies being genetically designed to have these two problems.

Specifics for sleep

Fruit flies have been studied so much, we’ve assembled a list of every neuron in their brain. This has enabled the breeding and identification of the genes and neurological mechanisms associated with each form of insomnia. The goal is then to take that information to design better treatments for human insomnia. This should be welcome news for people suffering from maintenance insomnia, since no medications currently target that flavor of sleep disorder.

Source: How Research On Sleepless Fruit Flies Could Help Human Insomniacs by Jon Hamilton, Shots

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