For fruit flies, sleep deprivation leads to less aggression and less sex

The common fruit fly - a small but mighty model organism for studying behaviour. (Credit: NASA)
The common fruit fly – a small but mighty model organism for studying behaviour. (Credit: NASA CC BY 2.0)

Sleep—it’s something that we all need but can’t seem to get enough of. Not getting enough sleep can turn the sweetest, most patient person into a short-tempered and irritable crank. When you’re tanky (tired + cranky), you might say and do things that you don’t really mean, kind of like when you’re hangry (hungry + angry). While the effects of sleep deprivation on mood and mental functioning have been well documented, less is known about how sleep loss affects aggressive behaviour.

Dr. Amita Sehgal, a professor at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, studies behaviour and its relationship with the body’s internal clock. For her research, she uses the common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, as a model to study the interactions between sleep and behaviour. In a paper published last month in eLife, Sehgal and colleagues showed that sleep deprivation in fruit flies leads to less aggression. Continue reading

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