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Brain responds same to acute and chronic sleep loss
Date:8/9/2010

f sleep that follows a period of wakefulness.

"Slow-wave activity reflects the fact that sleep is regulated by homeostasis: in general, the longer we stay awake, the higher is SWA in the subsequent sleep. We knew that this was true after acute total sleep deprivation (for instance when we stay up all night); now we found that this is also true after chronic sleep restriction. " Cirelli notes..

According to the rat cumulative SWA measures, the sleep restriction produced intense recovery sleep following each wake cycle, with both longer and deeper sleep. The more effective the researchers were in keeping the animals awake during those 20 hours, the larger the sleep rebound they saw during the following four hours.

"It was an indirect but powerful indication of how sleepy the animals actually were," Cirelli says.

Even when the animals seemed awake and were moving around, heightened SWA was evident in their "wake" EEG.

"Monitoring SWA levels during waking time is very important in understanding the whole picture," she says. "High SWA levels during periods of both sleeping and waking signal that you need to go to sleep."

The researchers also found that SWA levels were different in different areas of the brain, and they speculate that this may depend on what parts of the brain had been used during the waking period.

Knowing that sleep restriction evokes the same brain response as sleep deprivation will help scientists better understand the harmful effects of sleep disturbances, says Cirelli.

"Scientists have learned much from 40 years of studies on total sleep deprivation, she says. "Now we know we can apply the lessons we learned from acute sleep deprivation to chronic sleep restriction, which is very relevant to people's lives today."


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Contact: Susan Lampert Smith
ssmith5@uwhealth.org
608-262-7335
University of Wisconsin-Madison
Source:Eurekalert

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