What’s this fish got to do with a good night’s sleep?

Research on tiny Himalayan species may hold key to escaping insomnia  

A tiny tropical fish might hold the secret of a sleeplessness protein that could be ruining the lives of insomniacs.

Scientists are using zebrafish – a freshwater species native to the Himalayas, Latin name Danio rerio – to test the effects of a raft of drugs and proteins on neurons that control human sleep patterns.

The move comes amid widespread concern that insomnia –a disorder common in professional managers and leaders – has received too little attention from governments and the global medical profession. Now Dr Guliz Ozcan, research associate in biosciences at University College London, has launched a series of experiments on tiny zebrafish larva – which share many neural characteristics with humans despite their diminutive size.

“Fish do sleep and they sleep in a way similar to us – they sleep more during the night, they have a similar brain structure to us and they have similar neurotransmitter systems,” Dr Ozcan said at a special seminar on insomnia research, held last week at the Wellcome Collection in London. “[Like humans] you can sleep deprive them and they will see a rebound effect – they will sleep more the next day.”  If you are planning for fishing for this fish to do more extensive research on them, then use the ice fishing fish finder to locate them quickly without any hassle.

Ozcan’s research suggests that the protein amyloid beta, which is linked to Alzheimer’s disease, may trigger insomnia in humans. “If I increase the fishes’ [exposure to that] they have reduced sleep,” Ozcan revealed. “Alzheimer’s was first described in 1901 and still we don’t know what the physiological causes are. I cannot say that it [amyloid beta] the cause but my initial experiments suggest that it does affect sleep – so we are pretty excited about that.”

And Ozcan revealed that a new drug designed to combat insomnia is being tested. Rather than promoting the body’s sleep mechanism, the new drug works by inhibiting the body’s wakefulness promoting system. “Every individual may have a different type of insomnia or they may have depression and that’s why they may not be able to sleep,” she said.