UNITED STATES (VOP TODAY NEWS) — During the eons of evolution, all organisms with the nervous system, including flies of worms and jellyfish, needed sleep. Surprisingly, the reason why animals sleep, despite the constant threat from predators, still remains a mystery and is considered one of the most important unanswered questions in the life sciences.
However, it seems that scientists have revealed this secret. Researchers at Bar-Ilan University in Israel discovered a new and unexpected sleep function .
In search of an answer, experts turned to zebrafish. Possessing a transparency and a brain very similar to a human one, zebrafish are an ideal organism on which to study individual cells of a living animal in natural conditions.
Using a high-resolution microscope and three-dimensional time-lapse shooting, scientists observed the movement of DNA and nuclear proteins in the cells inside the fish when they are awake and asleep. The researchers were surprised to find that the chromosomes are more active at night when the body of the fish is resting, but it is this increased activity that can effectively repair DNA damage.
DNA damage can be caused by many processes, including radiation, oxidative stress, and even neuronal activity. The study showed that during wakefulness, when the dynamics of chromosomes are low, DNA damage constantly accumulates and can reach unsafe levels. It can be said that the accumulation of DNA damage is the price of waking.
Sleep reduces DNA damage accumulated in the brain during daily activity. The role of sleep is to increase the dynamics of chromosomes and the normalization of DNA in each individual neuron. To carry out “repair work” in the period of wakefulness, most likely, it is simply inexpedient.
Scientists believe that they have discovered a causal relationship between sleep, the dynamics of chromosomes, neuronal activity and DNA repair, which is of great importance for the whole organism. All this partly explains why sleep has been preserved in the animal world for billions of years. In fact, with the help of sleep, information recorded in the course of evolution saves itself on a global scale.
This article is written and prepared by our foreign editors writing for VOP from different countries around the world – edited and published by VOP staff in our newsroom.
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