‘Go and sleep, you will feel better when you wake up’.
You must have heard this a lot. When you get a little headache, or a stomach ache or a mild fever, your mother says,’Go and sleep’.
When you wake up, you feel considerably better, don’t you? But why is that? Why do you oversleep when you fall sick?
Can you oversleep when sick?
You can relate to the fact that you tend to sleep a lot when you fall sick. However, the reason behind that is a gene present in your body. That gene acts as a direct link between illness and craving for more sleep.
This was revealed after research was conducted in a university. The research concluded that the effect of sleep and sickness is directly proportional.
The study University of Pennsylvania
Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania in the US conducted a study on fruit flies. When the results came out, they could pinpoint the need to sleep down on one single gene called -Nemuri.
This special gene is made up of protein that fights off the germs and bacteria when you fall sick. The Nemuri gene begins its antimicrobial activity. Your brain meanwhile secrets the gens and makes you drift in a prolonged sleep, thereby giving time for the gene to fight off the infection.
What does the Professor say?
Professor Amita Sehgal who also took part in the research explained the relation said,’While it’s a common notion that sleep and healing are tightly related, our study directly links sleep to the immune system and provides a potential explanation for how sleep increases during sickness.’
They found that when the flies were exposed to nemuri genes, they had a prolonged sleep. However, when the lies were deprived of the Nemuri gene, they were easily aroused from their daily sleep.
The function of Nemuri gene
Apart from promoting sleep in your brain, the gene also kills microbes. This happens because the genes get activated as soon as you get any bacteria infection inside your body.
Nemuri affects the sleep-promoting structure in your brain and makes you fall into a deep sleep, thereby giving time to fight off the infection. On the other hand, an immune cell molecule called ‘interleukin-1 (IL-1)’ was found that is implicated in human sleep.
These cell molecules start accumulating in your brain when you are awake for a long time. This, in turn, appears to promote sleepiness. It suggests that nemuri serves as the link between healthy immune functioning and sleep.