Brain activity during wakefulness is associated with high metabolic rates that are believed to support information processing and memory encoding. In spite of loss of consciousness, sleep still carries a substantial energy cost. Experimental evidence supports a cerebral metabolic shift taking place during sleep that suppresses aerobic glycolysis, a hallmark of environment-oriented waking behavior and synaptic plasticity. Recent studies reveal that glial astrocytes respond to the reduction of wake-promoting neuromodulators by regulating volume, composition and glymphatic drainage of interstitial fluid. These events are accompanied by changes in neuronal discharge patterns, astrocyte-neuron interactions, synaptic transactions and underlying metabolic features. Internally-generated neuronal activity and network homeostasis are proposed to account for the high sleep-related energy demand.
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