Sleep or Love? Best take away from fruit fly

When it comes to select sex or sleep, researchers have found out how fruit fly decides.

Picture for representation
Fruit fly By Martin Cooper from Ipswich via Wikimedia Commons

Many species, including humans, have been caught without any choice when it comes to select sex or sleep and researchers have found out how fruit fly decides. It provides the best example to emulate, they insist.

Fruit fly (Drosophila) males and females deal with these choices in fundamentally different ways, say researchers. "An organism can only do one thing at a time," said Michael Nitabach, professor of genetics at Yale. "What we have discovered is a neuronal connection that regulates the interplay between courtship and sleep."

Nitabach and a team of scientists from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Southeast University in China, and University of San Diego -- have studied neuronal activity of males and female fruit fly and found that sleep-deprived males showed little interest in courtship.

However, lack of sleep had no effect on the mating behavior of females and they found that sexually aroused males got little sleep, while aroused females slept more. The male flies' behavior is easily explained as an adaptive behavior, but they wondered, why females are still receptive to male advances when sleepy?

Explaining it, Nitabach said the trait could be that females can't afford to pass up an eligible suitor no matter how tired they are. "It appears that whichever behavior has the highest biological drive, suppresses the other behavior," he said.

The report, published in July 28 edition of the journal Nature Communications, however, differs from the findings made among the aged women during menopause, characterized by sleep problems due to their level of sexual satisfaction. The study, published in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopause Society (NAMS), shows that short sleep duration was associated with lower odds of sexual satisfaction.

It found that women aged older than 70 years who slept fewer than 5 hours were 30% less likely to be sexually active and it was attributed to the fact that the prevalence of sleep problems increases with age.

"Women and healthcare providers need to recognize the link between menopause symptoms and inadequate sleep and their effects on sexual satisfaction," says Dr. JoAnn Pinkerton, NAMS executive director, suggesting harmone therapy as a panacea.