Sleep and Microbes

Int Rev Neurobiol. 2016;131:207-225. doi: 10.1016/bs.irn.2016.07.003. Epub 2016 Aug 31.


Sleep is profoundly altered during the course of infectious diseases. The typical response to infection includes an initial increase in nonrapid eye movement sleep (NREMS) followed by an inhibition in NREMS. REMS is inhibited during infections. Bacterial cell wall components, such as peptidoglycan and lipopolysaccharide, macrophage digests of these components, such as muramyl peptides, and viral products, such as viral double-stranded RNA, trigger sleep responses. They do so via pathogen-associated molecular pattern recognition receptors that, in turn, enhance cytokine production. Altered sleep and associated sleep-facilitated fever responses are likely adaptive responses to infection. Normal sleep in physiological conditions may also be influenced by gut microbes because the microbiota is affected by circadian rhythms, stressors, diet, and exercise. Furthermore, sleep loss enhances translocation of viable bacteria from the intestine, which provides another means by which sleep-microbe interactions impact neurobiology.

Keywords: Bacteria; Cytokine; Fever; Gut microbiota; LPS; Peptidoglycan; Sleep; Sleep loss; Viruses.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / microbiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders* / pathology


  • Cytokines