Study objectives: To use video to determine the accuracy of the infrared beam-splitting method for measuring sleep in Drosophila and to determine the effect of time of day, sex, genotype, and age on sleep measurements.
Design: A digital image analysis method based on frame subtraction principle was developed to distinguish a quiescent from a moving fly. Data obtained using this method were compared with data obtained using the Drosophila Activity Monitoring System (DAMS). The location of the fly was identified based on its centroid location in the subtracted images.
Measurements and results: The error associated with the identification of total sleep using DAMS ranged from 7% to 95% and depended on genotype, sex, age, and time of day. The degree of the total sleep error was dependent on genotype during the daytime (P < 0.001) and was dependent on age during both the daytime and the nighttime (P < 0.001 for both). The DAMS method overestimated sleep bout duration during both the day and night, and the degree of these errors was genotype dependent (P < 0.001). Brief movements that occur during sleep bouts can be accurately identified using video. Both video and DAMS detected a homeostatic response to sleep deprivation.
Conclusions: Video digital analysis is more accurate than DAMS in fly sleep measurements. In particular, conclusions drawn from DAMS measurements regarding daytime sleep and sleep architecture should be made with caution. Video analysis also permits the assessment of fly position and brief movements during sleep.