Hyprocretin / Orexin and its effect on sleep
What the effects of Hyprocretin or Orexin on your sleep? I can't wait to share it with you.... so it’s going to be very geeky again!
Hyprocretin or Orexin is a peptide that, in terms of science (1998), has been discovered pretty recently. Depending on what literature you look at, it’s either referred to as Hyprocretin or Orexin. Why? Because, it was discovered by two different groups at the same time, and they gave it different names; but it is the same peptide.
I want to talk about it, because there is a very strong relationship to its presence and sleep, and there have also been quite a few developments in pharmacology with this peptide. I want to explain it to you, so that you're aware of what is out there. Also, if you come across it by taking any other medication, it's always good to know, what it is.
What’s interesting to know, is that when the peptide, Hypocretin or Orexin, was discovered, there was pretty quickly a link between its presence or rather its absence, and narcolepsy. Research has discovered that the less peptides you have of Hypocretin or the absence of it, the more likely you are to have narcolepsy. They've actually discovered that patients with narcolepsy, as they age, start to reduce their number of Hypocretin and in the end, they actually don't have any left.
This is really interesting, because it could hint to the fact that narcolepsy is an autoimmune disease; as the body is basically sabotaging itself and it's disrupting its production of that peptide. Why that is the case hasn't been discovered yet. It's super interesting! I think its an interesting theory, and it totally makes sense. It also makes sense that you would not have any of those peptides left, as that increases sleepiness or the onset of sleep. It's logical that when you have too much of it or when you have an over-stimulation of it, it promotes wakefulness.
They have done some studies, where they took sleeping animals, and they've basically stimulated Hypocretin or Orexin in their brains. It showed that they would wake up, both from slow wave sleep and from REM sleep, a lot quicker. It was disrupting their sleep, and it didn't matter whether it was REM sleep or whether it was slow wave sleep. It also really shortened the amount of time that they would actually wake up from. They would wake up much quicker, than if it was their natural sleep.
What was interesting, and that's the last point I'm going to highlight, is that when an antagonist is given to Orexin at the same time, that effect doesn’t happen. Which means, that for pharma this is really interesting. They would basically see if someone has an issue with an overproduction of Hypocretin or Orexin, and an antagonist will actually be able to help them stay asleep. You can imagine it like having very fickle sleep, having super light sleep all the time. If you're someone, who's waking up super, super quickly all the time, then maybe that could be the answer to your problem in a chemical package.
In 2015 a new drug by the name of Suvorexant has been introduced. It's an antagonist. A dual orexin antagonist, which means that, if you take it at night, it makes sure that your Hypocretin or Orexin is not waking you up. It also does not disrupt cognition, which a lot of other sleep drugs do. They will leave you groggy. They will leave you with brain fog the next day. Apparently, Suvorexant doesn't. Obviously, I've never tried it, so I can't vouch for it! But that's what the science is saying for now.
The other reason, why it was on my radar, is that it's been promoted to help with drug abuse. Research has shown that people who have an addiction, whether it is nicotine, a drug addiction, or alcohol, suffer a lot from sleep disruption and that sleep disruption makes it even more difficult for them to recover from their addiction. Now, when treated with dual Orexin antagonist, it has been shown that the genetic and behavioral changes, that are caused by these addictive drugs, such as amphetamine and nicotine, can be blocked.
What is interesting to me is, "have they been blocked because suddenly sleep is back, or have they blocked in correlation of the peptides?" That is not quite as clear to me. In general, I would argue that when you get your sleep back, your body is able to re-balance itself, to heal and to fight against anything that's unnatural, so that would be my case for that drug in this context.
You know that I'm not a big fan of sleeping pills, in general. You are not sleeping because you don't have enough sleeping pill in your body. So it doesn't make sense that, that would be the answer. However, when I have clients, who are so stressed, because they haven't been sleeping and they just can't do anything else and there's no point in doing another protocol, because they cannot even think, then sometimes taking sleeping pills for a period of time, just to give your body a break, is fine. That’s why I find Suvorexant very interesting, because it does not disrupt your cognition.
Look into it. Talk about it with your MD, if you are looking to get that break, before you start looking into why you are not sleeping. What is the root cause? Why might you produce too much of that peptide? There is a reason, you know! And that's where I come in. That's where I go digging. But if you need something in the meantime, this might be it. Also, if you are someone who has narcolepsy and nobody has talked to you about it, it might be a good idea to look into.
This was a little bit more scientific, but I hope you liked it! And as usual, if you have any questions, suggestions or comments, please let me know!
Till next week....
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