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Sleep. 1992 Dec;15(6):537-44.

Sleep deprivation in the rat: XVI. Effects in a light-dark cycle.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Chicago, Illinois.


To avoid a possible confound between the effects of sleep loss and disturbed circadian rhythms in previous studies of total sleep deprivation (TSD) by the disk-over-water method, TSD rats and their yoked control (TSC) rats had been maintained in constant light both before and during the experiment. With circadian rhythms of both groups flattened by constant light, group differences in outcome measures could be attributed to sleep loss. However, the constant light control entailed the possibility that the sleep loss effects might obtain only in constant light. To evaluate this possibility, three TSD-TSC rat pairs maintained on a 12 hour light: 12 hour dark (LD) schedule were studied. TSC rats showed only minor changes during the deprivation period. As in previous studies, TSD rats showed increased food intake; decreased weight; increased energy expenditure; debilitated appearance; lesions on the tail and paws; an initial increase followed by a large decrease in body temperature; impending death; and recovery sleep, which featured large, selective, sustained rebounds of paradoxical sleep and a reversal of all observed TSD-induced changes. Thus, TSD produced the same changes during an LD schedule as during constant light. The amplitude of the diurnal body temperature rhythm declined over the course of TSD and then almost completely recovered during the first day of recovery sleep. The decline was interpreted as the result of deprivation-induced thermoregulatory changes.

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