Scientists from Stanford University in the USA have discovered what is the cause of poor sleep in older people after 65 years. The results of the work were described in the journal Science.
Experts have long known that sleep becomes more restless with age, and it is harder for old people to fall asleep, but the mechanisms of this phenomenon have not been studied. The research team selected two groups of mice to participate: young (from three to five months) and elderly (from 18 to 22 months), and then examined their orexins – neuropeptides in the brain responsible for awakening. Scientists have found that old test subjects lost about 38 percent of orexins compared to young mice.
Thus, the researchers concluded that sleep problems in adulthood are caused by disturbances in the potassium channels, which are biological “switches” between wakefulness and sleep. They also stressed that poor sleep can increase the risk of developing various health problems, from hypertension to heart attacks, diabetes, depression and Alzheimer’s disease.
Scientists hope that their scientific work will allow them to develop more effective therapy and medicines for insomnia in the future.