Scientists say that every animal needs sleep. These fruit flies have not received the memo | Science

Photos of Solvin Zankl / Minden

By Michael Price

Ask parents of newborns if they think that sleep is overrated and that you are likely to catch a deadly look. Yet, according to a new study, some fruit flies are almost never dormant, suggesting that at least in some animals, sleep may not be necessary.

Sleep is potentially expensive for many animals, making them vulnerable to predators and wasting time during resource harvesting or mating. For this reason, scientists have long assumed that it has evolved to give animals a vital and evolutionary benefit, perhaps as a means of conserving energy or giving the brain the time to "burn". organize memories. In any case, no truly sleepless animal has ever been found in the wild.

In the new study, researchers observed Drosophila melanogaster fruit flies in the laboratory when they noticed a very large distribution in the duration of sleep. Most of them slept between 300 and 600 minutes a day, but about 6% of women slept less than 72 minutes a day and three particularly agitated people slept only 15, 14 or 4 minutes a day, respectively.

This lack of sleep did not seem to have a negative effect on health. White flies have lived as long as other flies, researchers report today. Progress of scienceand even flies with typical sleep schedules had not been disturbed when they were housed in a rotating tube that forced them to lose about 96% of their sleep time.

The authors say that their findings run counter to the common wisdom that sleep plays an indispensable biological role. Instead, they say, we should take the view that sleep is probably an evolutionary goal that is still unknown, but it is not strictly necessary. Do not say that to new parents.

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