Study: Brain cells' reaction to light behind sleep patterns

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92250468The way a person's brain is wired can have a significant impact on the way we go about our daily lives. The discoveries of a new study supporting this concept have revealed that certain types of cells found in the human brain are behind our sleep patterns.

In a study by researchers at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), the findings showed that brain cells create a substance - called hypocretin - that keeps an individual awake in conditions of bright light. Conversely, this substance isn't created at the same level in darkness, making individuals feel sleepy and ready to doze off in their white beds.

The findings also suggested that a person's failure to produce sufficient amounts of hypocretin could increase the risk of sleep disorders and even Parkinson's disease down the line.

Jerome Siegel, study author and professor of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behaviour at UCLA, said: "This current finding explains prior work in humans that found that narcoleptics lack the arousing response to light, unlike other equally sleepy individuals, and that both narcoleptics and Parkinson's patients have an increased tendency to be depressed compared to others with chronic illnesses."

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