You may notice at night, once the sun sets and darkness takes over the skies, your eyelids may become harder and harder to keep open. Your body, as well as other animals’, follows a stimuli-induced system of sleep regulation. At night, your body releases hormones such as melatonin in response to the stimuli of darkness. Melatonin will bring on that drowsy feeling and lower your body temperature. But what if your ability to see light and darkness no longer existed? How would your body know when to release melatonin so that you can become tired enough to fall asleep?
In a study discussed in a New York Times article, researchers in London tested the effects of replacing the stimuli of light with vibrations in flies. In this study, two different experiments were performed to discover how flies’ bodies would react to the replacement of light with vibration. The first experiment simply removed light and temperature variations and replaced them with vibrations that would be turned on for 12
Of course the body needs a time to sleep, to rest, to grow, and to recover. However, as seen from the experiment discussed above, light variations may not be necessary stimuli to regulate our circadian rhythms. Perhaps it does not matter what triggers our wake and sleep cycles, as long as it coincides with the proper amounts of sleep that we need in order to survive and grow. If the bodies of flies can synch to a new type of stimuli, what is stopping other species from doing the same? Perhaps this could come to cure the dreaded jet lag associated with travel or help a species easily adjust to its new environment when it must migrate for survival.
Posted by: Ashton Brown (1)