Sleep and Oxidative Stress: Current Perspectives on the Role of NRF2

Cell Mol Neurobiol. 2024 Jun 25;44(1):52. doi: 10.1007/s10571-024-01487-0.


Sleep is a fundamental conserved physiological state across evolution, suggesting vital biological functions that are yet to be fully clarified. However, our understanding of the neural and molecular basis of sleep regulation has increased rapidly in recent years. Among various processes implicated in controlling sleep homeostasis, a bidirectional relationship between sleep and oxidative stress has recently emerged. One proposed function of sleep may be the mitigation of oxidative stress in both brain and peripheral tissues, contributing to the clearance of reactive species that accumulate during wakefulness. Conversely, reactive species, such as reactive oxygen species (ROS) and reactive nitrogen species (RNS), at physiological levels, may act as signaling agents to regulate redox-sensitive transcriptional factors, enzymes, and other effectors involved in the regulation of sleep. As a primary sensor of intracellular oxidation, the transcription factor NRF2 is emerging as an indispensable component to maintain cellular redox homeostasis during sleep. Indeed, a number of studies have revealed an association between NRF2 dysfunction and the most common sleep conditions, including sleep loss, obstructive sleep apnea, and circadian sleep disturbances. This review examines the evidence of the intricate link between oxidative stress and NRF2 function in the context of sleep, and highlights the potential of NRF2 modulators to alleviate sleep disturbances.

Keywords: Antioxidants; NRF2; Oxidative stress; Sleep; Sleep disturbances.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2* / metabolism
  • Oxidative Stress* / physiology
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Sleep* / physiology


  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Reactive Oxygen Species