(ORDO NEWS) — On the hottest summer days, many of us tend to sleep. In some parts of the world, the cultural norm is to take a nap, or “siesta,” when businesses close and people go to rest. But it seems that behind this culture is our biology.
It turned out that our brain very carefully monitors the temperature around
Any temperature affects human behavior, from food intake and activity levels to sleep and wake cycles. In the summer, it can be harder for us to fall asleep, and we are in no hurry to get out of bed on a cold morning. But the relationship between these phenomena is not fully understood.
Neuroscientists at Northwestern University, USA, have found several connections that may explain what is happening.
The researchers found that fruit flies are programmed to take a nap in the middle of the day, which led them to believe that there is a certain brain “thermometer” in our brain.
Why do we want to sleep
As part of the work, the scientists were able for the first time to identify “absolute heat” receptors in the fly’s head, which respond to temperatures above about 25°C. This indicator is considered the “favorite” temperature of the fly.
The researchers found that the neurons in the brain that receive information about heat are part of a larger system that regulates sleep.
When the hot circuit, which runs parallel to the cold circuit, is active, the target cells that promote midday sleep remain active longer. This results in longer midday naps, which keeps the flies away from activity during the hottest part of the day.
Scientists say that “hot and cold temperatures can have very different effects on physiology and behavior.” This division may also reflect evolutionary processes based on Earth‘s heat and cold cycles.
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