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J Neurosci. 2015 Oct 14;35(41):13889-95. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2592-15.2015.

Disrupted Sleep: From Molecules to Cognition.

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Department of Sleep and Cognition, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, an institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1105 BA, Amsterdam, The Netherlands, Departments of Integrative Neurophysiology and Medical Psychology, Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research, Neuroscience Campus Amsterdam, VU University and Medical Center, 1081 HV, Amsterdam, The Netherlands,
Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin 53719.
Surrey Sleep Research Centre, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Surrey, Guildford GU2 7XP, United Kingdom.
Sleep, Metabolism and Health Center, Department of Medicine, University of Chicago, Illinois 60637.
Department of Neuroscience and Swiss Center for Affective Sciences, University of Geneva, Switzerland CH-1211, and.
Centre for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke-NUS Medical School, Singapore 169857.


Although the functions of sleep remain to be fully elucidated, it is clear that there are far-reaching effects of its disruption, whether by curtailment for a single night, by a few hours each night over a long period, or by disruption in sleep continuity. Epidemiological and experimental studies of these different forms of sleep disruption show deranged physiology from subcellular levels to complex affective behavior. In keeping with the multifaceted influence of sleep on health and well-being, we illustrate how the duration of sleep, its timing, and continuity can affect cellular ultrastructure, gene expression, metabolic and hormone regulation, mood, and vigilance. Recent brain imaging studies provide some clues on mechanisms underlying the most common cause of disrupted sleep (insomnia). These insights should ultimately result in adequate interventions to prevent and treat sleep disruption because of their high relevance to our most prevalent health problems.


Disruption of the duration, timing, and continuity of sleep affects cellular ultrastructure, gene expression, appetite regulation, hormone production, vigilance, and reward functions.


cellular ultrastructure; gene expression; insomnia; metabolism; mood; sleep disruption

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