So, you have a pile of work to do, or a test to take tomorrow, or something like that. Time to put on a pot of coffee? Actually, you’d better not. See, sleep is an important part of turning short-term memory into long-term memory.
A study published in eLife has found that the neurones responsible for memory/learning, and sleep are the same. Researchers examined dorsal paired medial (DPM) neurones in flies. DPM neurones are known to be memory consolidators in flies. However, for the first time, scientists observed that when DPM neurones are activated, the flies slept more. If deactivated, the flies keep . . . well, flying.
DPM neurones are usually busy converting short-term memories to long-term ones. However, it turns out that learning helps keep flies awake. According to co-author Bethany Christmann, “It’s almost as if that section of the mushroom body were saying ‘hey, stay awake and learn this.’ Then, after a while, the DPM neurones start signalling to suppress that section, as if to say ‘you’re going to need sleep if you want to remember this later.’”
Of course, the next step is to replicate the study in a human brain. In the mean time, however, in case you need one more reason to sleep, how about this one?