New study identified brain neurons in pre-sleep routine.


When we are agitated or aroused, it may be challenging to go to sleep—and many people have developed a pattern of winding down before going to sleep.

Adopting a regular behavioral pre-sleep routine was shown to be more effective in promoting sleep than medicine for persons with persistent issues beginning and sustaining sleep. However, the molecular relationship between the pre-sleep period and sleep initiation remained until recently a mystery.

Recent research from the University of Michigan sheds fresh light on the systems that govern pre-sleep activities and, as a result, sleep initiation.

Those who are insomniacs, people who have trouble going to sleep and staying asleep regularly, could benefit from the findings published in Current Biology.

Routine behaviors such as taking care of one's hygiene and creating a sleeping environment are common in humans and many other animals. Although these pre-sleep behaviors have long been hypothesized to help calm the brain and prepare it for sleep, there has never been any concrete evidence to support this theory.

Researchers at the University of Michigan characterized mice's pre-sleep routines. They demonstrated that when mice cannot engage in pre-sleep nesting behavior, it takes them longer to fall asleep, and the quality of their sleep is compromised.

Neurons that were active during the pre-sleep period were labeled, and their activity was modulated using newly discovered cutting-edge technologies. Researchers have found neurons in the lateral hypothalamus, a brain region in the forebrain that regulates various actions, including pre-sleep nesting behavior and sleep severity, which they have effectively targeted.

The discoveries may potentially result in the creation of alternative medications to treat sleep problems – in addition to the presently available prescription medications, which carry a slew of health hazards.

Ada Eban-Rothschild, an assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience and the study's senior author, says that a better understanding of the neuronal mechanism that helps people go from being awake to asleep could significantly impact a lot of people, like people who have insomnia.



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