Robert: Study explores why it’s hard to wake up when it’s cold

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Now that the temperature has started to drop, you’ve probably have noticed it’s a little harder to get out of bed. The good news is it probably has nothing with you being lazy and more to do with science.

Neurobiologists at Northwestern University say weather can have numerous effects on our bodies and the team is currently exploring how sensory and sleep cycle neurons react to these chillier temperatures. In their studies, they have found that colder temperatures caused a transfer of information from their antennas to their brains.

“This helps explains why — for both flies and humans — it is so hard to wake up in the morning in winter,” says study lead Marco Gallio. “By studying behaviors in a fruit fly, we can better understand how and why temperature is so critical to regulating sleep.”

Rhythms of activity and sleep are controlled by a large network of brain neurons. Target cells responsible for waking you up can be shut down by these neurons when they discover the active motion of cold circuits.

“Temperature sensing is one of the most fundamental sensory modalities,” Gallio adds. “The principles we are finding in the fly brain — the logic and organization — may be the same all the way to humans. Whether fly or human, the sensory systems have to solve the same problems, so they often do it in the same ways.”

“The ramifications of impaired sleep are numerous — fatigue, reduced concentration, poor learning and alteration of a myriad of health parameters — yet we still do not fully understand how sleep is produced and regulated within the brain and how changes in external conditions may impact sleep drive and quality,” co-author Michael H. Alpert explains.

 

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