Background: A complex relationship exists between diet and sleep but despite its impact on human health, this relationship remains uncharacterized and poorly understood. Drosophila melanogaster is an important model for the study of metabolism and behaviour, however the effect of diet upon Drosophila sleep remains largely unaddressed.
Methodology/principal findings: Using automated behavioural monitoring, a capillary feeding assay and pharmacological treatments, we examined the effect of dietary yeast and sucrose upon Drosophila sleep-wake behaviour for three consecutive days. We found that dietary yeast deconsolidated the sleep-wake behaviour of flies by promoting arousal from sleep in males and shortening periods of locomotor activity in females. We also demonstrate that arousal from nocturnal sleep exhibits a significant ultradian rhythmicity with a periodicity of 85 minutes. Increasing the dietary sucrose concentration from 5% to 35% had no effect on total sucrose ingestion per day nor any affect on arousal, however it did lengthen the time that males and females remained active. Higher dietary sucrose led to reduced total sleep by male but not female flies. Locomotor activity was reduced by feeding flies Metformin, a drug that inhibits oxidative phosphorylation, however Metformin did not affect any aspects of sleep.
Conclusions: We conclude that arousal from sleep is under ultradian control and regulated in a sex-dependent manner by dietary yeast and that dietary sucrose regulates the length of time that flies sustain periods of wakefulness. These findings highlight Drosophila as an important model with which to understand how diet impacts upon sleep and wakefulness in mammals and humans.