A study has found that after a sleepless night, males may end up preferring sleep while females' mating behaviour may not get affected at all due to lack of sleep. According to the study, males who had not taken sleep properly showed little interest in courtship while lack of sleep had no effect on the mating behaviour of females.
“An organism can only do one thing at a time,” said corresponding author Michael Nitabach from Yale University in New Haven, US. “What we have discovered is a neuronal connection that regulates the interplay between courtship and sleep,” Nitabach added.
The study was conducted on Drosophila. Neuronal activity involved in both behaviours was investigated by Nitabach- in collaboration with scientists from Janelia Research Campus of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Southeast University in China, and University of San Diego.
Males who were sexually aroused slept less while females who were sexually aroused slept more. The male flies’ behaviour is easily explained as an adaptive behaviour, say the scientists: Falling asleep while doing sex is not a good way to pass your genes. It could be that females cannot afford to pass up an eligible suitor no matter how tired they are, Nitabach stated.
“It appears that whichever behaviour has the highest biological drive suppresses the other behaviour,” he said.
According to the researchers, there could possibly be a similar mechanism for adjudicating when the drives for sleep and sex collide.