Dietary fatty acids promote sleep through a taste-independent mechanism. Academic Article uri icon


  • Consumption of foods that are high in fat contribute to obesity and metabolism-related disorders. Dietary lipids are comprised of triglycerides and fatty acids, and the highly palatable taste of dietary fatty acids promotes food consumption, activates reward centers in mammals and underlies hedonic feeding. Despite the central role of dietary fats in the regulation of food intake and the etiology of metabolic diseases, little is known about how fat consumption regulates sleep. The fruit fly, Drosophila melanogaster, provides a powerful model system for the study of sleep and metabolic traits, and flies potently regulate sleep in accordance with food availability. To investigate the effects of dietary fats on sleep regulation, we have supplemented fatty acids into the diet of Drosophila and measured their effects on sleep and activity. We found that flies fed a diet of hexanoic acid, a medium-chain fatty acid that is a by-product of yeast fermentation, slept more than flies starved on an agar diet. To assess whether dietary fatty acids regulate sleep through the taste system, we assessed sleep in flies with a mutation in the hexanoic acid receptor Ionotropic receptor 56D, which is required for fatty acid taste perception. We found that these flies also sleep more than agar-fed flies when fed a hexanoic acid diet, suggesting the sleep promoting effect of hexanoic acid is not dependent on sensory perception. Taken together, these findings provide a platform to investigate the molecular and neural basis for fatty acid-dependent modulation of sleep.

published proceedings

  • Genes Brain Behav

altmetric score

  • 11.58

author list (cited authors)

  • Pamboro, E., Brown, E. B., & Keene, A. C.

citation count

  • 6

complete list of authors

  • Pamboro, Estelle LS||Brown, Elizabeth B||Keene, Alex C

publication date

  • April 2020