Two Days' Sleep Debt Causes Mood Decline During Resting State Via Diminished Amygdala-Prefrontal Connectivity

Sleep. 2017 Oct 1;40(10). doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsx133.


Study objectives: Sleep debt (SD) has been suggested to evoke emotional instability by diminishing the suppression of the amygdala by the medial prefrontal cortex (MPFC). Here, we investigated how short-term SD affects resting-state functional connectivity between the amygdala and MPFC, self-reported mood, and sleep parameters.

Methods: Eighteen healthy adult men aged 29 ± 8.24 years participated in a 2-day sleep control session (SC; time in bed [TIB], 9 hours) and 2-day SD session (TIB, 3 hours). On day 2 of each session, resting-state functional magnetic resonance imaging was performed, followed immediately by measuring self-reported mood on the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory-State subscale (STAI-S).

Results: STAI-S score was significantly increased, and functional connectivity between the amygdala and MPFC was significantly decreased in SD compared with SC. Significant correlations were observed between reduced rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and reduced left amygdala-MPFC functional connectivity (FCL_amg-MPFC) and between reduced FCL_amg-MPFC and increased STAI-S score in SD compared with SC.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that reduced MPFC functional connectivity of amygdala activity is involved in mood deterioration under SD, and that REM sleep reduction is involved in functional changes in the corresponding brain regions. Having adequate REM sleep may be important for mental health maintenance.

Keywords: anxiety; functional brain imaging; functions of REM sleep; sleep and the brain; sleep deprivation.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Amygdala / physiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory
  • Prefrontal Cortex / physiology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Deprivation / psychology*
  • Sleep, REM / physiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult