Sweetness induces sleep through gustatory signalling independent of nutritional value in a starved fruit fly
Starvation reduces sleep in various animal species including humans and fruit flies. Immediate hunger and the following insufficient nutritional status resulting from starvation may affect sleep and arousal differently. In order to clarify the mechanism underlying the relationship between diet and sleep, we analysed the sleep behaviour of Drosophila melanogaster that were either starved or fed with different types of sugars. Starved flies showed longer activity bouts, short sleep bouts and a decreased arousal threshold. Non-nutritive sweeteners such as sucralose and arabinose, which are sweet but not nutritive, induced sleep in starved flies, but sleep bout length and the arousal threshold was short and decreased, respectively. On the other hand, sorbitol, which is not sweet but nutritive, did not induce sleep, but slightly increased the lowered arousal threshold. Activation of sweetness receptor expressing neurons induced sleep in starved flies. These results suggest that sweetness alone is sufficient to induce sleep in starved flies and that the nutritional status affects sleep homeostasis by decreasing the arousal threshold, which resulted in short sleep bouts in Drosophila.