New study to show how immune response affects sleep and memory

Posted by ap507 at Jun 11, 2014 04:50 PM |
Sickness-induced insomnia is common because of link between brain and immune system

Fighting off illness - rather than the sickness itself - causes sleep deprivation and affects memory, a new study by Dr Eamonn Mallon (pictured) from the Department of Biology has found.

He says it's a common perception is that if you are sick, you sleep more.

But the study, carried out in flies, found that sickness induced insomnia is quite common.

Dr Mallon said: “Think about when you are sick.  Your sleep is disturbed and you’re generally not feeling at your sharpest.  Previously work has been carried out showing that being infected leads to exactly these behaviours in fruit flies.

“In this paper we show that it can be the immune system itself that can cause these problems. By turning on the immune system in flies artificially (with no infection present) we reduced how long they slept and how well they performed in a memory test."

The research has been published in the journal PeerJ here.

Funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Dr Mallon carried out the study with Ezio Rosato (Genetics), Robert Holdbrook (Biology undergraduate) and Akram Alghamdi (Taif University, Saudi Arabia while a PhD student at Leicester).