Sleep: we spend about a third of our lives doing it, but there are many unanswered questions as to why we do it. Results of a recent study of Round worms may bring us closer to understanding the purpose of sleep in all animals, including humans. According to a Pennsylvania research team, round worms undergo a period of “lethargus”, before they molt. It was also discovered that the gene that regulates “lethargus” is found in other animals, and this may help identify the genes that regulate sleep in humans, which could lead to new treatments of sleep disorders. The similarity between “lethargus” and mammalian “sleep” relates to the theory that sleep like states evolved to facilitate nervous system change.

Nature2008 Jan 31; 451(7178): 569-72. Epub 2008, Jan 9

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