（Li Qian）Local scientists have found a possible new approach to enable people to fall asleep and wake up whenever they want.
Glutamatergic neurons in the basal forebrain can trigger the release of adenosine, a small molecule that helps in cellular energy transfer. As adenosine builds up, people become sleepy.
So, the removal of glutamatergic neurons can help people maintain wakefulness, according to a study by the Center for Excellence in Brain Science and Intelligence Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
It could be a new potential target for drug development to treat those with sleeping disorders. Further, it could lead to the possibility that people don’t need much sleep or sleep whenever they want, which could save a lot of time, leading researcher Xu Min said.
However, there is still a long way to go. Without enough sleep, people could get cognitive impairment, loss of coordination, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders and mental problems.
“We are looking forward to a drug that enables people to have less sleep yet become physically active,” he said.
Researchers used a self-developed fluorescence detection device to monitor how levels of adenosine change during sleep and wakefulness in mice. They found that levels quickly changed in different sleep stages, showing there was a close connection with neuronal activity.
Further research led them to acetylcholinergic neurons and glutamatergic neurons, and they found glutamatergic neurons play the major role.