Sleep is a restorative and rejuvenating experience. Without it, our thoughts grow hazy and our instincts become sluggish. Researchers claim that during periods of rest some animals experience similar brain wave patterns as humans.
But the question here is about insects? Do insects sleep? Bugs don’t have eyelids, so you’ll never see one shut its eyes for a sleep.
Insects appear to switch between rest periods and attentiveness. But, it’s unclear if they sleep like humans and other animals. Scientists have yet to discover a technique to analyze insect brain activity.
The phenomenon behind insect sleep
Insects do require sleep. Their bodies, like those of other creatures, with a central nervous system need relaxation.
Insects definitely sleep at intervals and are only woken by powerful stimuli. It could be the heat of the day, the dark of the nights, or a predatory strike.
Torpor is a tranquil interval of rest that bugs display. It is the closest thing they have to actual sleep. Insects go into torpor when their metabolic activity is reduced, such as their temperature and metabolism.
Torpor is similar to hibernation, which is experienced by several animals. It is also important in the evolution of insects. It helps them adapt to different surroundings and to conserve resources in harsh times.
An example is weta of New Zealand that lives at high altitudes. The overnight temperatures may be extremely cold. To keep warm, the weta just sleeps and freezes at night. It defrosts and begins its activities in the day.
Insects have a circadian cycle that governs their phases of stagnation and attentiveness. They don’t appear to enter REM or homeostatic sleep.
The activity periods, regulated by the insect’s consumption, influence its Circadian rhythm.
The research on insects and sleep
The common fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, is the most researched insect in this field.
The insects displayed actions that resembled sleep, according to the study’s findings. The flies would retire to their sleeping spots and get comfortable at moments throughout the circadian cycle. The fruit flies were unable to react to sensory inputs during this time of slumber.
These times of rest appear to be used by honey bees to integrate long-term memory. However, insects that are sleep deprived struggle in the same way as humans do.
Sleep-deprived flies had a harder time performing specific actions and behaviors. They also lost the ability to converse through their “waggle dance”. They further discovered that if flies were kept awake for lengthy periods, they might expire.
Another research reveals that nocturnal flies with a specific genetic mutation become dynamic at night. This was due to increase in dopamine impulses.
This alteration in nighttime activity is comparable to that found in individuals with dementia. An increased dopamine level in dementia patients can lead to aggressive behavior in the evenings. This condition is known as sun-downing.
To be functional, all living species require rest. Their physiologic abilities begin to deteriorate without it. This results in jeopardizing their likelihood of life. Even insects need to sleep, and they are no different.
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