Key to Disrupted Sleep Found - Small Ion Channels Implicated


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
We've seen that ion channels are deeply implicated in pain states and that genetic polymorphisms affecting them probably play a role in ME/CFS. This realization has come about as the tools for describing and understanding ion channels have appeared. A recent study indicates that calcium ion channels play the same role in sleep. Interestingly the activity of these channels increases during sleep.

The description of these mice sounds very much like ME/CFS - fragmented sleep and a failure to attain deep sleep. Other studies indicate that fragmented sleep makes it more difficult to feel positive or hopeful (eg. to access the reward centers of the brain.)

Several studies suggest problems with deep sleep are present in ME/CFS and they appear to mirror the findings here - so far as I can tell.

This calcium channel turns out to be a key player in normal sleep. The mice without working Cav3.1 calcium channels took longer to fall asleep than normal mice, and stayed asleep for much shorter periods. "They basically took cat naps," says Llinás. Their brain activity was also abnormal, more like normal wakefulness than sleep. Most importantly, these mice never reached deep, slow-wave sleep. "This means that we have discovered that Cav3.1 is the channel that ultimately supports deep sleep," Llinás says.

Because these mice completely lack the ability to sleep deeply, they eventually express a syndrome similar to psychiatric disorders in humans. Llinás believes that studying how the brain functions during unconsciousness is key to understanding normal consciousness, as well as abnormal brain activity. This paper begins to uncover one of the key mechanisms of normal sleep, as well as the role for one important calcium channel in overall brain function.


Moreover, quite unexpectedly, during unconsciousness, high-frequency oscillations (known as characteristic EEG spectral bands in the aroused state) were increased in mice lacking CaV3.1 channels, compared with control mice.

sounds very much like the Zinn's findings that ME/CFS patients were asleep when they were awake....


Founder of Health Rising and Phoenix Rising
Staff member
Isn't that a haunting phrase. To be asleep whilst awake.

It describes our state very well though.
Doesn't it! There's also this part of the brain called the reticular activating system I think it is (???) that is in charge of keeping us awake. It's been implicated in Fibromyalgia I believe....I would love to simply be more awake (and in control :)). I can't tolerate much caffeine but when I take it man it is exciting. I feel awake and clear for awhile - and then fall apart (lol)


Well-Known Member
Hmmm, more calcium channel connections.

Mast cells degranulate their worst at night. One of the meds is GastroCrom and I must take it (and H1 and H2) at night or my mast cell "attacks" are constant and unbearable. Sleep (although usually always poor) would be non-existent without it. GastroCrom is a mild calcium channel blocker. Im a late to bed person and sleep is not that good. But, on the other hand some of my friends that I e-mail with who are on other time zones - have someone to talk to. :) I know going to bed late and being on the computer is ALLLLL WRONG. But, it's better than "stupid", mind numbing TV. I can do some of my best research at night. OH, BTW, that's another sign of MCAS - we have another surge of serotonin at night and it keeps us up and we get that second wind.


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