If you’re tired, it might not be your brain that’s to blame. A recent study has found that a protein in your muscles plays a critical role in regulating sleep length and quality, and helping you stay peppy even when you mightn’t have had a great night.
The researchers from the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center dubbed the protein BMAL1, a circadian clock gene. They found that while different levels of BMAL1 in the brain of mice had little to no effect on sleep and recovery, altering the levels of the gene in the muscles had a huge impact.
When mice had higher levels of BMAL1 in their muscles, they recovered from sleep deprivation more quickly. Low levels of BMAL1 lead to an increased need for sleep, a deeper sleep and a reduced inability to recover.
While there’s no way yet to increase your levels of BMAL1, a pill might be on the way. In the meantime focus on setting a regular sleep pattern, exercising regularly and eating well to keep alert during the day.