Long-term effects of sleep deprivation on neuronal activity in four hypothalamic areas

Neurobiol Dis. 2018 Jan;109(Pt A):54-63. doi: 10.1016/j.nbd.2017.10.005. Epub 2017 Oct 7.


Lack of adequate sleep has become increasingly common in our 24/7 society. Unfortunately diminished sleep has significant health consequences including metabolic and cardiovascular disease and mental disorders including depression. The pathways by which reduced sleep adversely affects physiology and behavior are unknown. We found that 6h of sleep deprivation in adult male rats induces changes in neuronal activity in the lateral hypothalamus, the paraventricular nucleus, the arcuate nucleus and the mammillary bodies. Surprisingly, these alterations last for up to 48h. The data show that sleep loss has prolonged effects on the activity of multiple hypothalamic areas. Our data indicate also that measuring electroencephalographic slow wave activity underestimates the amount of time that the hypothalamus requires to recover from episodes of sleep deprivation. We propose that these hypothalamic changes underlie the well-established relationship between sleep loss and several diseases such as metabolic disorders, stress and depression and that sufficient sleep is vital for autonomic functions controlled by the hypothalamus.

Keywords: Health; Homeostasis; Hypothalamus; Metabolism; Sleep function.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Arcuate Nucleus of Hypothalamus / physiopathology
  • Electroencephalography
  • Hypothalamic Area, Lateral / physiopathology
  • Hypothalamus / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mammillary Bodies / physiopathology
  • Neurons / physiology*
  • Paraventricular Hypothalamic Nucleus / physiopathology
  • Rats, Wistar
  • Sleep Deprivation / physiopathology*