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Body hormone ghrelin, a food intake and weight gain influence, is found to promote sleep

March 18, 2003 (Bethesda, MD) -- In movies and novels alike, much is made of the stage of sleep known as rapid eye movement (REM), since this is the phase of slumber in which dreams (good, bad, exotic) occur. Among the medical community, there is an increased appreciation for what is called "slow-wave" sleep, (also known as deep or delta-wave sleep), because this fourth stage of sleep can be difficult to attain. If one is awakened during the first three stages of sleep, they must repeat these stages again before reaching fourth stage or "delta-wave," sleep.

Once this latter stage is reached, muscles are relaxed, blood pressure drops, and the pulse and breathing are slower. According to the Sleep Research Center, other benefits to the body are accrued during slow-wave sleep, including: an increase of blood supply to the body; a decrease in body temperature thus preserving energy; a lowering of metabolic activity enabling tissue repair and growth; an increase of natural immune-system modulators; and a period in which the growth hormone secretions reach their peak, thus stimulating body growth and development.

A New Study
A team of researchers has found that the peptide hormone ghrelin, bound to the growth hormone secretagogue (GHS) receptor, has a distinct positive action on stage four sleep and nocturnal hormone secretion. Their findings suggest that, in addition to its influence on growth hormone secretion, food intake, and weight gain, ghrelin is a sleep-promoting factor. This new role for the peptide appears to be complementary in function to its established function in the regulation of energy balance and obesity.

Previous rat studies offered conflicting data on sleep following ghrelin administration. In one study, a decrease of REM sleep was found after administration of ghrelin to rats. In another study, ghrelin was given to two different strains of mice, intact animals and those with nonfunctional growth hormone-releas
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Contact: Donna Krupa
djkrupa1@aol.com
703-527-7357
American Physiological Society
18-Mar-2003


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