Health Watch - The Brain: Catching up on Sleep

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This week on Health Watch, we’re talking about understanding how the brain works. Your brain isn’t working at its best when you’re not getting enough sleep, but a good night’s rest can often bring you right back to normal. Researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center may have discovered how that works.

The key is a molecule called an adenosine receptor that provides a kind of docking station in brain cells for the molecule adenosine, which increases during wakefulness. When adenosine “docks” with its receptor, it promotes slow-wave sleep activity that helps restore the brain. This also helps explain how caffeine keeps you awake. Caffeine docks with the adenosine receptors, keeping adenosine from docking and keeping you awake. But Dr. Robert Greene, a UT Southwestern psychiatrist, says caffeine can keep you from getting that restoring slow-wave sleep, so you may be less mentally alert the next day.

Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/mentalhealth to learn more about UT Southwestern’s clinical services in mental health.

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April 2009


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