Home Health Older people sleep less, brain circuits deteriorate – Medicine

Older people sleep less, brain circuits deteriorate – Medicine

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Older people sleep less, brain circuits deteriorate – Medicine


(ANSA) – ROME, FEBRUARY 28 – It is well known that sleeping well at night becomes more difficult as we age, but the biology behind why this happens has remained poorly understood.

A team of US scholars has now identified how brain circuits involved in regulating sleep and wakefulness degrade over time in mice, which they say opens the way for better drugs in humans.

The research, from Stanford University, is published in the journal Science.

“More than half of people aged 65 and over complain about the quality of sleep,” emphasizes Professor Luis de Lecea, co-author of the study.

For the research, the focus was on hypocretins, key chemicals generated by only a small group of neurons in the brain’s hypothalamus.

The team selected young (three to five months) and old (18 to 22 months) mice and used the light carried by the fibers to stimulate specific neurons. The results were recorded using imaging techniques.

What emerged was that the elderly mice had lost about 38% of hypocretin compared to the young ones. Not only that: the remaining hypocretins in the elderly mice were more easily activated, thus making the animals more prone to awakening.

This could be due to the deterioration over time of “potassium channels”, which are biological on and off switches important to the functions of many cell types. (HANDLE).

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