Sleep state switching

Neuron. 2010 Dec 22;68(6):1023-42. doi: 10.1016/j.neuron.2010.11.032.


We take for granted the ability to fall asleep or to snap out of sleep into wakefulness, but these changes in behavioral state require specific switching mechanisms in the brain that allow well-defined state transitions. In this review, we examine the basic circuitry underlying the regulation of sleep and wakefulness and discuss a theoretical framework wherein the interactions between reciprocal neuronal circuits enable relatively rapid and complete state transitions. We also review how homeostatic, circadian, and allostatic drives help regulate sleep state switching and discuss how breakdown of the switching mechanism may contribute to sleep disorders such as narcolepsy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Circadian Rhythm / physiology
  • Humans
  • Nerve Net / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology
  • Sleep Stages / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology
  • Wakefulness / physiology*