Rat strain differences in sleep after acute mild stressors and short-term sleep loss

Behav Brain Res. 2005 May 7;160(1):60-71. doi: 10.1016/j.bbr.2004.11.015. Epub 2004 Dec 30.


Genetic and physiological diversity amongst rodent strains provide the potential for developing models that may give insight into factors that regulate sleep in response to environmental challenges. We examined home cage activity, behavioral performance in the open field and sleep after a number of mild stressors (cage change [CC], open field [OF]) and after 1 and 4h of sleep deprivation (1hSD and 4hSD) in rat strains (Fischer 344 [F344], Lewis [LEW], Wistar [WST] and Sprague-Dawley [Sp-D], n=16 per strain) that differ in behavior and sleep. F344 and WST rats had greater home cage locomotion than LEW and Sp-D rats, but F344 rats exhibited the least relative locomotion in OF. In 24h baseline recordings of sleep, strain rankings were LEW=WST=Sp-D>F344 in rapid eye movement sleep (REM), and LEW=Sp-D>F344 and LEW>WST in non-REM (NREM). Compared to baseline, total sleep was reduced in all four strains after CC, OF and 1hSD, but not after 4hSD, in the first hour after treatment. Afterwards, increases in REM and NREM were seen after all treatments with the amount and time course varying across treatments and strains. CC induced the weakest and 4hSD the largest effects on sleep, whereas OF and 1hSD had intermediate effects. Among strains, the more anxious F344 rats exhibited the greatest sleep increases during the light period after OF, 1hSD and 4hSD. The results are discussed with respect to the relationship between behavioral and sleep responses to stressors, and to potential mechanisms underlying the strain differences.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Analysis of Variance
  • Animals
  • Behavior, Animal / physiology
  • Exploratory Behavior / physiology
  • Female
  • Locomotion / physiology
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Sleep / genetics*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Stages
  • Species Specificity
  • Stress, Psychological / physiopathology*
  • Time Factors
  • Wakefulness / physiology