Scientists Study How Curiosity Influences Sleep

University of Texas, Southwestern Medical Center researchers have been studying how curiosity influences sleep using mice models.

Appealing to a sense of curiosity influences sleep by delaying the will and urge to doze off, also referred to as a state of subjective sleepiness, according to the findings published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Masashi Yanagisawa – a professor of molecular genetics and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the university – said in a statement, reported by the Huffington Post, “This study supports the idea that subjective sleepiness is influenced by the quality of experiences right before bedtime. Are you reluctantly awake or excited to be awake?”

An example of how curiosity influences sleep would be the compelled urge to read an interesting page-tuner well into the late hours of the evening, although you are exhausted, just to find out what happens next.

Researcher were able to establish a model to study how curiosity influences sleep by first splitting virtually, genetically identical mice into three test groups. The first group was allowed to sleep without interruption – the control. The second and third groups were subjected to interruptions in order to assess the influence of curiosity and subjective sleepiness – delaying their sleep by at least six hours.

The second group of mice was kept awake by changing out their cages – allowing them time to explore new changes in surrounding environment. Meanwhile, the third group of test mice was simply kept awake through gentle nudges – tapped every time they appeared to be drifting off to sleep, reports Science Daily.

Mice that were kept awake by appealing to their curious natures had a harder time falling asleep than mice that were just gently kept awake – even when both groups of mice were sleep-deprived. The ones that were gently kept awake drifted off to sleep faster than the mice that were kept awake because they wanted to explore.

Additionally, two new proteins were identified that seemed to play a role in the sleep response.

[Image via Shutterstock]