Feel Sleepy When You’re Sick? That Could Be Your Immune System Kicking In

11:47 minutes

african american woman dozing in bed in the dark
Credit: Shutterstock

Whether you’re a night owl or an early riser, we all sleep. But for something so universal, we don’t understand much about what makes us sleep. Researchers looking into this question recently found a gene called neumri that triggered sleep in Drosophila flies. That gene produced a protein that is linked to antimicrobial activity. The results were published in the journal Science. Neuroscientist Amita Seghal, who is an author on the study, talks about the role sleep might play in sickness and keeping us healthy.  

Further Reading:

  • Read the full study in Science. 
  • Dig into an article in The Atlantic the explains the recent finding.
  • Check out a 2011 study on sleep and immune function.
  • Read an interview with Amita Sehgal about what flies could teach us about the human circadian rhythm.
  • Learn more about a recently discovered “clock” in the blood brain barrier of fruit flies.

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Segment Guests

Amita Sehgal

Amita Sehgal is an investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and a professor of Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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About Alexa Lim

Alexa Lim was a senior producer for Science Friday. Her favorite stories involve space, sound, and strange animal discoveries.

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John Dankosky works with the radio team to create our weekly show, and is helping to build our State of Science Reporting Network. He’s also been a long-time guest host on Science Friday. He and his wife have three cats, thousands of bees, and a yoga studio in the sleepy Northwest hills of Connecticut. 

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