Emory Researchers Announce Discovery of Substance That May Be Linked to Excessive Sleeping

In a paper published in the November 21, 2012, edition of Science Translational Medicine, Dr. David Rye and a team of researchers from Emory University announced their discovery of a substance in the cerebrospinal fluid of 32 people with idiopathic hypersomnia that may be responsible for their relentless need to sleep. For now, the researchers are simply referring to this substance as a somnogen (or sleep-producing agent), which appears to heighten the effect of GABA when tested in the laboratory. Seven of the research subjects with idiopathic hypersomnia subsequently received flumazenil under experimental conditions and experienced normal levels of alertness.

Rye DB, Bliwise DL, Parker K, et al. Modulation of vigilance in the primary hypersomnias by endogenous enhancement of GABAA receptors. Sci Transl Med. 2012 Nov 21;4(161):161ra151. The paper is available free of charge after registering on the AAAS web site.

Greg Miller, science writer for AAAS, summarized the findings of the paper in ScienceNow in “Putting Themselves to Sleep.

An Editor’s Summary of Dr. Rye’s paper, “Awake and Refreshed,” was published simultaneously in Science Translational Medicine.

The announcement of this groundbreaking work resulted in a great deal of media coverage in November 2012, some of which is linked below.

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