Let me ask you something…
What do fruit flies, genetics, dopamine, and sex have in common?
Apparently they all hold the key to curing Restless Leg Syndrome!
Well according to recent findings, that is…
But before we get to that…
Are you losing sleep?
A good night’s sleep is a necessity for every human being but increasingly it is becoming a luxury for 10% of the US population that is suffering from RLS (Restless Leg Syndrome). Thanks to distractions like e-mail, instant and text messaging and online shopping, the average night’s sleep for non-RLS suffering adults in the US also has fallen to six and a half hours from more than eight.
Those suffering from Restless Leg Syndrome face sleep disturbances as a result of uncomfortable sensations in their legs.
RLS is a neurological disorder that shows symptoms such as throbbing, pulling, creeping or other unpleasant sensations in the legs and can even result in an overwhelming urge to move the legs. The worst part is that RLS mostly surfaces when you rest or are about to sleep.
Constant leg movement to relieve discomfort results in insomnia that affects your quality of life. Since sleep regulates the nervous system, sleep deprivation because of RLS results in decreased work performance, impaired memory and cognitive functioning and minimal social interactions.
Now that we know more about the disorder and why it’s so bad for us, what exactly is causing it?
RLS could be in your genes
According to the findings reported online in the Current Biology Journal, a Cell Press publication, fruit flies also face RLS when their BTBD9 gene is altered. According to researcher Subhabrata Sanyal of Emory University in Georgia, when the BTBD9 in flies was messed up, it caused the same sleep disturbances and restlessness that happens in human patients.
The study strongly suggested that there seems to be a genetic basis for Restless Leg Syndrome. Moreover, the same mutations in BTBD9 also reduce levels of the neurotransmitter dopamine in the flies. The deficiency in dopamine is thought to be linked to restless legs in humans.
So fruit flies could hold the key?
When gene functionality is studied, it helps to make diagnosis and treatment of restless legs even better. Current therapeutic options are limited to general approaches that reduce symptoms to a certain extent but do not completely eliminate them. Moreover, they are ineffective or cause side effects in some patients.
Scientists do not have much understanding of how the nervous system is affected by RLS. The fruit fly study of BTBD9 will lead to discovering improved treatments for humans.
Sanyal also added that BTBD9 seems to be regulating dopamine in fruit flies causing increased movement and disturbed sleeping patterns. It also was felt that BTBD9 may have effects on dopamine indirectly through iron.
Iron is needed for synthesis of dopamine and its deficiency causes RLS to worsen. In humans, BTBD9 regulates production of ferritin, an important iron storage protein. More research will be carried out on discovering how BTBD9 affects the fly’s nervous system. Some other related genes were also found to affect sleep regulation.
In fact…The cure could be more pleasurable than expected!
A case report recently appeared in Sleep Medicine suggesting that masturbation and sexual intercourse can alleviate the symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome. Masturbation and sex result in release of the neurotransmitter dopamine that eases the uncomfortable symptoms of Restless Leg Syndrome.
More research has yet to be done before coming up with an absolute cure for RLS, till then those suffering from it have to just rely on drugs, relaxation techniques and sex!
Do you have an unusual treatment for restless legs?
Have your say about it in the comments form below…