I would have thought by now that science could at least understand why and how people get sleepy before conking out and going unconscious, but apparently its complexity has only recently been grasped. Insert James Krueger and his colleagues at Washington State University, the big wigs behind this latest discovery in Why-Am-I-Getting-Tired-As-Sh*t-ology:
“We know that brain activity is linked to sleep, but we’ve never known how,” said James Krueger, WSU neuroscientist and lead author of a paper in the latest Journal of Applied Physiology. “This gives us a mechanism to link brain activity to sleep. This has not been done before.”
The mechanism discovered is a mass collection of
Mountain Dew proteins and chemical transmitters. For a long time we’ve understood that your mental activity, while awake, can influence your sleep through stress, anxiety, etc. but up until now, researchers haven’t been able to figure out what drives these sleep regulatory substances (I always assumed sleepiness had a direct correlation with whatever programming MTV was broadcasting).
The researchers documented how ATP (adenosine triphosphate), the fundamental energy currency of cells, is released by active brain cells to start the molecular events leading to sleep. The ATP then binds to a receptor responsible for cell processing and the release of cytokines, small signaling proteins involved in sleep regulation.
According to the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies, sleep disorders affect between 50 and 70 million Americans and they also estimate the lost productivity of fatigue costs businesses roughly $150 billion a year -still no word on how FarmVille affects productivity.
It’s nice finally knowing that now I can explain to my roommate why it is that he woke up under a coffee table, yesterday. Here we’ve been, like lost puppies, under the impression that it was the 40oz. King Cobra malt liquor to blame, but thanks to researchers, now we know it was just some daffy proteins and goofy chemical transmitters. Thanks science -high five!