Cognitive effects of sleep deprivation can be reversed with the brain peptide orexin-A, according to animal studies conducted by investigators at the Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, NC, and the University of California at Los Angeles (Deadwyler SA et al. J Neurosci. 2007;27:14239-14247).
Orexin-A, also called hypocretin-1, is a naturally occurring peptide that is produced in the brain and regulates sleep. The researchers studied the effects of orexin-A on Macaca mulatta monkeys that were kept awake for 30 to 36 hours and were subsequently given cognitive problems of varying difficulty. Cognitive skills were significantly impaired in control monkeys, but not in monkeys given intranasal or intravenous orexin-A prior to testing.
Hampton T. Sleep Deprivation. JAMA. 2008;299(5):513. doi:10.1001/jama.299.5.513-c