What does 5 hours of sleep do?These data indicate that sleep plays an important and phylogenetically conserved role in the developing brain. Together these data are reminiscent of the differential neuronal programming found between neonatal and adult mammals exposed to dopamine41 and suggest that flies sleep deprived at eclosion have acquired a long term deficit in dDA1 signaling. For the elderly, the need for SLEEP decreases further and can drop to as little as 5 hours, which is still in a healthy range. In conclusion, the data reported here demonstrate that disrupting sleep during a critical window of plasticity results in long-lasting changes in short-term memory and behavioral flexibility and that these deficits persist well into adulthood.
Moreover, genes expressed in dopaminergic neurons that are associated with the synthesis and handling of dopamine such as pale (coding for tyrosine hydroxylase), dopadecarboxylase (Ddc), and the Dopamine transporter (DAT) are transcribed at similar levels in previously sleep deprived and control flies (Figure 5D). Thus, the aim of this study was to determine whether the early adult life of Drosophila, which is associated with high amounts of sleep and critical periods of brain plasticity, could be used as a model to identify developmental processes that require sleep.