Apparently, the key to the transition between wakefulness to sleep is one of the most important molecules in the body, namely adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ‘Keys to sleep’ is a compound that stores energy that will be used in metabolism.
As reported from Discovermagazine, May 27, 2011, a team of researchers led by neurobiolog James Krueger, found that the continuous firing of neurons in the brain when we are awake causes them to release ATP into the space between cells.
When the molecule that accumulates, it binds itself to the surrounding neurons and supporting cells. This allows the cells to absorb other chemical compounds, such as tumor necrosis factor and interleukin 1, which is likely to make the cell was asleep.
These cells are then activated when the other elements in the brain begin to decrease its activity and make people fall asleep. “These findings confirm that sleep is not a phenomenon that occurs in all parts of the brain,” said Krueger. “Sleep is only happening on a number of neural circuits are most active during the day and release most of the ATP,” he said.
This means, says Krueger, another part of the brain remain intact even if we fell asleep. “This is a very important finding,” said Mark Mahowald, an expert observer to sleep at the University if Minnesota is not involved in the study. “The finding that only part of the brain are asleep so in accordance with our understanding about the phenomenon of sleepwalking,” he said.
As is known, when sleepwalking occurs, people sleepwalking, keeping his eyes open and to avoid objects in front of him not to hit. However, that person has no consciousness during sleepwalking.
The role of ATP is becoming increasingly clear that this can also play an important role in the process of making new drugs to help overcome the problem of insomnia or other sleep disorders.