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Neurosci Lett. 1999 Aug 20;271(2):77-80.

Free-running circadian period does not shorten with age in female Syrian hamsters.

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Department of Biology, Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115, USA.


It has been reported that the free-running period of circadian rhythms shortens with age in mammals, including humans, and this shortening has been suggested to be the underlying cause of early morning awakening and difficulty maintaining sleep in older people. A recent study found that the free-running period of male hamsters does not change with age. The present study extends those findings to female hamsters. We studied the locomotor activity rhythm of 22 female hamsters kept in constant conditions from early adulthood until their death, and compared their data to those from male hamsters. We found no shortening of free-running period with age in the female hamsters, and no difference in free-running period between females and males. In contrast, mean activity level and amount of time per cycle spent running declined with age in females and males. These findings demonstrate that the free-running period in hamsters does not systematically shorten with age, and suggest that alternative explanations for the observed age-related advance of sleep-wake times in humans should be explored.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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