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J Biol Rhythms. 2014 Apr;29(2):119-30. doi: 10.1177/0748730414524898.

Insights into behavioral vulnerability to differential sleep pressure and circadian phase from a functional ADA polymorphism.

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Centre for Chronobiology, Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland.


Sleep loss affects human behavior in a nonuniform manner, depending on the cognitive domain and also the circadian phase. Besides, evidence exists about stable interindividual variations in sleep loss-related performance impairments. Despite this evidence, only a few studies have considered both circadian phase and neurobehavioral domain when investigating trait-like vulnerability to sleep manipulation. By applying a randomized, crossover design with 2 sleep pressure conditions (40 h sleep deprivation vs. 40 h multiple naps), we investigated the influence of a human adenosine deaminase (ADA) polymorphism (rs73598374) on several behavioral measures throughout nearly 2 circadian cycles. Confirming earlier studies, we observed that under sleep deprivation the previously reported vulnerable G/A-allele carriers felt overall sleepier than G/G-allele carriers. As expected, this difference was no longer present when sleep pressure was reduced by the application of multiple naps. Concomitantly, well-being was worse in the G/A genotype under sleep loss when compared to the nap protocol, and n-back working memory performance appeared to be specifically susceptible to sleep-wake manipulation in this genotype. When considering psychomotor vigilance performance, however, a higher sensitivity to sleep-wake manipulation was detected in homozygous participants, but specifically at the end of the night and only for optimal task performance. Although these data are based on a small sample size and hence require replication (12 G/A- and 12 G/G-allele carriers), they confirm the assumption that interindividual differences regarding the effect of sleep manipulation highly depend on the cognitive task and circadian phase, and thus emphasize the necessity of a multimethodological approach. Moreover, they indicate that napping might be suitable to counteract endogenously heightened sleep pressure depending on the neurobehavioral domain.


adenosine deaminase; circadian phase; cognition; interindividual variability; sleep pressure; well-being

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