Tuesday, November 29, 2022

Sleep deprivation, free radicals, and antioxidants

Fruit flies with sleep deprivation die due to the accumulation of free radicals in their intestines. Astonishingly, giving antioxidants to the fruit flies makes them live normal lifespans, though they should die due to sleep loss.

We know that lack of sleep can lead to many health challenges such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, dementia, and depression. We also know that animals that are sleep deprived in laboratory settings die. But the exact mechanism that causes their death was not known.

Researchers at Harvard Medical School found that fruit flies with sleep deprivation die due to the accumulation of ROS (reactive oxygen species) in their intestines.

Astonishingly, the scientists also found that giving antioxidants, such as melatonin, lipoic acid, and NAD to the fruit flies makes them live normal lifespans, though they should die due to sleep loss. Obviously, these results won’t directly be true in humans and many more experiments will be needed to fill the gaps in our knowledge.

But, the big lessons are:
1. lack of sleep can lead to ROS (Reactive Oxygen Species) accumulation in the intestines, and
2. antioxidants can quench these ROS and let a fruit fly live a normal life.

Here is my short video on the subject:

First published on: 2nd December 2021
Image credit: Ron Lach on Pexels

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