The International Business Times reports that the channel that leads to deep sleep has been discovered, which may lead to the development of new drugs to treat sleep disorders.

The scientists, from the New York University School of Medicine, published their findings in the Proceeding for the National Academy of Sciences.

They showed how the calcium channel CaV3.1 is involved in deep sleep in a study of mice – the mice that lacked CaV3.1 took longer to fall asleep and woke up more often. They were incapable of maintaining low-frequency oscillatory activity associated with unconsciousness.

Study author Rodolfo R. Llinas told IBTimes UK: “The issue at this moment is trying to understand the nature of sleep. The issue historically has been either you are asleep or you are awake.”

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