19 September 2009

Wake Up Little Mousie -- Time to Dance

“Their relentless drive is not a mood disorder,” Jones said. “There is a strong affective and emotional component to the feeling that you always want to do something. They can’t imagine doing nothing.” _ImpactLab
Some people thrive on 4 - 6 hours of sleep a night, and find the energy to stay on the go -- day after day after day. How do they do it? Chances are, they do it because they like to be going. Why? The answer may be genetic.
...a genetic variation found in people who seem to need only about six hours’ sleep—compared to the often recommended 7½ to eight hours—was put into mice to create a colony of “insomniac” rodents. Like humans with the variation, which is called DEC2, mice who received the variant gene appeared to function normally even though they got less sleep than a control group that didn’t have the DEC2 variation. _ImpactLab
Great. As if the furry little vermin weren't active enough already. Instead of giving the "stay going longer" gene to mice, how about giving it to me?
The discovery arose after a 68-year-old woman contacted Jones’ collaborators to volunteer for sleep research, telling him she had an unusually early morning wake-up time. Both the woman and her daughter go to bed between 10 and 10:30 p.m. and wake up between 4 and 4:30 in the morning. Yet, their 18-hour day does not affect their energy level or ability to function.

“The mom is very energetic and extremely active,” Jones said. “In fact, it makes me feel tired to hear about the activities she does every day.”

The woman just returned from a 50-day cruise, dances several nights a week, and plays bridge every day. Intrigued by the woman’s ability to operate on less sleep, Jones contacted colleagues at UCSF, who examined the woman’s DNA and identified the DEC2 variation.

...The researchers precisely monitored when the mice were slumbering, and then interrupted their sleep cycle to see how it would affect them. Even with less sleep, the insomniac mice were more active than a group of control mice who didn’t have the DEC2 variation. The researchers determined this by monitoring how long both groups of mice spent running in wheels inside their cages, and the insomniac group spent an average 1 ½ more hours turning the wheels than the control group.

This heightened functioning raised the question of whether the insomniac mice slept deeper than the controls. But the Stanford group monitored their sleep and found it was no deeper than that of the control group.

The study begins to shed more light on two related aspects of sleep: the biological clock that lets people sleep in harmony with the cycle of day and night and the body’s sleep homeostat—a mechanism in a different part of the brain that tracks how long people are awake and asleep. Genes such as DEC2 are found in both the homeostat and biological clock. Yet, while some of those genes work in the homeostat, they do not appear to have a function in the biological clock. _IL
This type of gene therapy may be a useful treatment for depression. Depressed people tend to either sleep too much, or sleep too little with corresponding fatigue. Being able to sleep significantly less while feeling energetic and eager to carry out normal activities, sounds like the opposite of typical depression.

Time will tell. And no doubt, there are other similar genes that interact with the body and brain's need for regular sleep.

I am not sure how well such persons could adapt to polyphasic sleep -- a method of breaking up a night's sleep into short, multiple naps throughout the day. There is a lot of research to be done into ways humans can free themselves from the chains of compulsion that rule so much of our lives.

By the way, optimal functioning on less sleep is another method of life extension. I want to work in as many effective methods as possible.

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Blogger Pastorius said...

Off topic.

Do you think the information contained in the following link is accurate:


Is the USA really #40 in the world in patents per capita

Saturday, 19 September, 2009  
Blogger al fin said...

I don't know about per capita rankings, but the data at the Nationmaster site appears to be eithe mistaken or fabricated. It does not match with data from the US patent office.

Sunday, 20 September, 2009  

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“During times of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act” _George Orwell

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