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Physiological Basis of Sleep: The Neurophysiology and Neurobiology of Wakefulness and NREM and REM Sleep

The 2nd edition of the ESRS Sleep Medicine Textbook is an invaluable resource for the latest information on physiological basis of sleep. The summaries that follow offer insights into the Sleep Medicine Textbook chapters on “The neurophysiology and neurobiology of wakefulness and non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep” and “The neurophysiology and neurobiology of paradoxical (REM) sleep”.

The Neurophysiology and Neurobiology of Wakefulness and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep

Waking results from the activity of multiple neurotransmitter/modulatory systems distributed throughout the brain. According to the current model, both circadian signals and the progressive accumulation of hypnogenic factors (e.g., adenosine) during prolonged period of wakefulness ultimately activate non-rapid eye movement (NREM)promoting neurones. A number of convincing studies support the hypothesis that NREM sleep results from the activation of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) ergic neurones localized at least in the preoptic area of the anterior hypothalamus leading to the inhibition of the wake-active neurones widely distributed within the whole brain. However, recent studies identified a collection of additional neuronal (sub-)populations, whose activity correlates with, and facilitates, either wakefulness or NREM sleep. The present chapter summarizes current hypotheses on the mechanisms underlying the onset, maintenance, and termination of waking and NREM sleep, also called slow-wave sleep.

Keywords:
acetylcholine, adenosine, brainstem, gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), histamine, hypocretin (HCRT1), hypothalamus, noradrenaline, serotonin

Summary by:
Antoine Adamantidis, Patrice Fort and Pierre-Hervé Luppi (2021). A. Physiological Basis of Sleep 1. The Neurophysiology and Neurobiology of Wakefulness and Non-Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) Sleep. In Bassetti, C., McNicholas, W., Paunio, T., & Peigneux, P. (Eds.). Sleep Medicine Textbook (2nd ed., pp. 7-13). Regensburg: European Sleep Research Society. 

The Neurophysiology and Neurobiology of Paradoxical (REM) Sleep

Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep (or paradoxical sleep [PS]) is a state characterized by REMs, electroencephalographic (EEG) activation, and muscle atonia. In this review, we present the latest update on the neuronal network responsible for PS. We propose that muscle atonia during PS is due to activation of PS-on glutamatergic neurons localized in the caudal pontine sublaterodorsal tegmental nucleus (SLD) and the glycinergic/GABAergic premotoneurons localized in the ventro-medial medulla (vmM). The SLD neurons are inactivated during waking and slow-wave sleep (SWS) by PS-off GABAergic neurons localized in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray and the adjacent deep mesencephalic reticular nucleus. PS onset and maintenance is due to the inhibition of these PS-off neurons by PS-on GABAergic neurons localized in the posterior hypothalamus, the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray, and the lateral and dorsal paragigantocellular reticular nuclei. Finally, we show that only a few limbic cortical structures are activated during PS by the claustrum and the supramammillary nucleus and discuss the possible function of such activation.

Keywords:
acetylcholine, brainstem, glycine, melanin concentrating hormone (MCH), muscle atonia, serotonin

Summary by:
Pierre-Hervé Luppi, Antoine Adamantidis and Patrice Fort (2021). A. Physiological Basis of Sleep 2. The Neurophysiology and Neurobiology of Paradoxical (REM) Sleep. In Bassetti, C., McNicholas, W., Paunio, T., & Peigneux, P. (Eds.). Sleep Medicine Textbook (2nd ed., pp. 15-25). Regensburg: European Sleep Research Society. 

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