Amino acid identified associated with poor performance under sleep restriction

June 10, 2016, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

The amino acid acetylcarnitine may help predict an individual's neurobehavioral performance during chronic sleep restriction, according to results of a new study (abstract 0251) from researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania that will be presented at SLEEP 2016, the 30th annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC.

Previous studies have shown that sleep loss degrades behavioral attention, cognitive processing and memory, but this study offers the first experimental evidence that acetylcarnitine—which transports fatty acids into the mitochondria where they are broken down and oxidized and formed into energy—may predict neurobehavioral vulnerability to sleep loss in healthy adults.

In the study at the sleep lab at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, participants' blood samples were taken after 10-12 hours of fasting following one night of baseline sleep (10 hours time in bed), (5 consecutive nights of 4 hours time in bed), and one night of recovery sleep (12 hours time in bed).

The Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), the Digit Symbol Substitution Task (DSST), the Digit Span Task (DS), the Karolinska Sleepiness Scale (KSS) and the Profile of Mood States (POMS) tests were administered every two hours while participants were awake.

The preliminary data associated acetylcarnitine with six neurobehavioral variables during sleep loss, including PVT lapses (longer than 500 millisecond responses) and errors, PVT response speed, DSST total correct, DS total correct, KSS scores, and POMS vigor scores—but not at baseline or recovery. Higher levels of this molecule predicted poorer behavioral attention, slower ability to process information, and poorer memory and increased sleepiness.

"We know that there are robust differences in how individuals respond to sleep loss," said Namni Goel, PhD, a research associate professor of psychology in Psychiatry in the division of Sleep and Chronobiology, and lead author on the study. "Some people are very vulnerable, while others are more resistant to these effects. Identifying this marker is an important step in identifying measures to mitigate the disruptive effects of sleep loss in those who are more affected."

The findings have implications for government agencies and other institutions interested in predicting who may be vulnerable to sleep loss and finding ways to offset the negative effects of when they occur.

These data build on earlier work by members of the Penn team, who previously found two markers of sleep debt that reliably track when a person is deprived (Weljie et al 2015, PNAS 112(8):2569-74).

Explore further: Weight and diet may help predict sleep quality

Related Stories

Weight and diet may help predict sleep quality

June 10, 2016
The old adage "you are what you eat," may be better phrased as "your sleep relates to what you eat." An individual's body composition and caloric intake can influence time spent in specific sleep stages, according to results ...

Hypoglycemia, sleep loss prolong cognitive impairment

April 5, 2016
(HealthDay)—Sleep deprivation does not exacerbate cognitive impairment induced by hypoglycemia, but the post-hypoglycemia recovery takes longer with persistence of both cognitive dysfunction and hypoglycemia symptoms, according ...

Study links late sleep timing to poorer diet quality and lower physical activity

June 8, 2016
A new study suggests that among healthy adults with a habitual sleep duration of at least 6.5 hours, late sleep timing was associated with higher fast food consumption and lower vegetable intake, particularly among men, as ...

Study shows sleep disturbances common among military spouses

June 8, 2016
A new study found that spouses of military service members experience significant sleep problems, which can impact their health and psychosocial functioning.

Study shows that teens lose sleep after change to daylight saving time

September 3, 2015
A new study shows that high school students lose sleep on school nights following the change to daylight saving time that occurs in March. The loss of sleep during the school week was associated with a decline in vigilance ...

Recommended for you

Study compares athlete and truck driver, identical twins

July 20, 2018
When it comes to being fit, are genes or lifestyle—nature or nurture—more important? Researchers at San Francisco State University, CSU Fullerton and Cal Poly, Pomona removed the nature part of the equation by studying ...

Secondhand smoke causing thousands of still births in developing countries

July 20, 2018
The study reveals that more than 40% of all pregnant women in Pakistan are exposed to secondhand smoke—causing approximately 17,000 still births in a year.

Eating iron-fortified grain improves students' attention, memory

July 18, 2018
Adolescent students in a rural school in India who consumed an iron-biofortified version of the grain pearl millet exhibited improved attention and memory compared to those who consumed conventional pearl millet, according ...

Vaping tied to blood clots—in mice

July 18, 2018
A new study involving mice raises another concern about the danger of e-cigarettes in humans after experiments showed that short-term exposure to the device's vapors appeared to increase the risk of clot formation.

Lowering hospitals' Medicare costs proves difficult

July 18, 2018
A payment system that provides financial incentives for hospitals that reduce health-care costs for Medicare patients did not lower costs as intended, according to a new study led by Washington University School of Medicine ...

People who tan in gyms tan more often, and more addictively, than others, new research shows

July 18, 2018
Gyms are places people go to get healthier. But nearly half the gyms in the U.S. contain a potentially addictive carcinogen—tanning beds, report UConn researchers in the July 18 issue of JAMA Dermatology.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.