Sleep May Not Be Controlled only by the Brain According to Research Led by Morehouse School of Medicine

12:09 EDT 8 Aug 2017 | PR Newswire

ATLANTA, Aug. 8, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- A recently released study from a team led by Morehouse School of Medicine shows that the process controlling sleep may not lie totally in the brain. Research published in the scientific journal eLife demonstrates that a circadian clock protein in the skeletal muscle, BMAL1, can regulate sleep amount and the ability to recover from lost sleep.

"We thought sleep was regulated by the main biological clock and other processes located primarily within the brain. Our findings are the first to show that an organ outside the brain, skeletal muscle, plays a significant role in the regulation of sleep, and changes the way we think about sleep regulation," said neurobiologist Christopher Ehlen, PhD., one of the team leads.

"This is also the first demonstration that circadian mechanisms outside the brain regulate sleep amount," said Dr. Ehlen. "If similar mechanisms are present in humans, this study could lead to a new potential target for the treatment of sleep disorders—skeletal muscle. It also suggests that the beneficial effects of exercise on sleep may be through skeletal muscle circadian clocks, and that the loss of skeletal muscle in aging, disease or space exploration may have a causal role in producing sleep disorders."

MSM researchers led the study and included scientists from the University of Florida and the University of Texas Southwestern and University of California Los Angeles. MSM's contributors included lead researcher Dr. Ketema Paul, Ph.D., Dr. Ehlen, Dr. Jason DeBruyne,Ph.D., Allison Brager,Ph.D, Cloe Gray, Ph.D., Julie Baggs, Ph.D., and Lennisha Pinckney, MPH.

Read more about this ground-breaking research in the published study.

About Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM)

Founded in 1975, Morehouse School of Medicine (MSM) is among the nation's leading educators of primary care physicians, biomedical scientists and public health professionals. In 2011, MSM was recognized by Annals of Internal Medicine as the nation's No. 1 medical school in fulfilling a social mission. MSM faculty and alumni are noted for excellence in teaching, research and public policy, as well as exceptional patient care.

Morehouse School of Medicine is accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award doctoral and master's degrees. To learn more about programs and donate today, please visit or call 404-752-1500.

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SOURCE Morehouse School of Medicine


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