Best of 2017 // #82: Does Sleep Need a Brain to Happen?


Is falling asleep easy?  Jellyfish, for example, are just bunches of neurons without a brain, yet they display similar sleep behaviours that people do.

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Researchers at Caltech want to know more, so they put Cassiopea, a species of jellyfish, through several experiments to see if they fit the requirements of sleep.  Sleep, or a sleep-like state required that a lifeform have lower activity levels, slower reaction times, and impaired performance if deprived of a sleep-state.  The Jellyfish achieved all three.

The findings were presented in October’s Current Biology.

The findings also seem to indicated that sleep is not necessarily a function of having a brain.  That would also lead to the suggestion that sleep is a function so important, that it has survived several millions of years of evolution.  Could, then, sleep be a function of having neurons themselves?

There’s more stories from 2017.  Check out the Best of 2017 series here

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