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Sleepy Roundup

November 30, 2012

Researchers think they’re found the cause of hypersomnia, a condition which causes people to feel constantly sedated.

Transcript

BOB HIRSHON (host):

Insights into chronic fogginess. Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

People with primary hypersomnia get plenty of sleep, but never feel fully awake. In the journal Science Translational Medicine, researchers from Emory University report finding a likely cause: a substance in cerebrospinal fluid that acts like sleeping medication.  The effect is so powerful that people go through daily life with roughly the same level of sedation as is given to people getting colonoscopies. Now that the team has found the previously unknown compound, they’re looking into treatments to counteract it.

In somewhat related news, British scientists report in the journal PLOS ONE that fetuses yawn in the womb. Using high definition video analysis, they found that yawning peaked at about 6 months gestation. They suggest that yawning may be linked to nervous system development and could help monitor fetal health. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.