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Sleep and bodily functions: the physiological interplay between body homeostasis and sleep homeostasis

R. Amici, S. Bastianini, C. Berteotti, M. Cerri, F. Del Vecchio, V. Lo Martire, M. Luppi, E. Perez, A. Silvani, G. Zamboni, G. Zoccoli


Body homeostasis and sleep homeostasis may both rely on the complex integrative activity carried out by the hypothalamus. Thus, the three main wake-sleep (WS) states (i.e. wakefulness, NREM sleep, and REM sleep) may be better understood if the different cardio-respiratory and metabolic parameters, which are under the integrated control of the autonomic and the endocrine systems, are studied during sleep monitoring. According to this view, many physiological events can be considered as an expression of the activity that physiological regulations should perform in order to cope with the need to fulfill body and sleep homeostasis. This review is aimed at making an assessment of data showing the existence of a physiological interplay between body homeostasis and sleep homeostasis, starting from the spontaneous changes observed in the somatic and autonomic activity during sleep, through evidence showing the deep changes occurring in the central integration of bodily functions during the different WS states, to the changes in the WS states observed when body homeostasis is challenged by the external environment and when the return to normal ambient conditions allows sleep homeo- stasis to run without apparent physiological restrictions. The data summarized in this review suggest that an approach to the dichotomy between NREM and REM sleep based on physiological regulations may offer a framework within which observations that a traditional behavioral approach may overlook can be interpreted. The study of the interplay between body and sleep homeostasis appears, therefore, to be a way to understand the function of complex organisms beyond that of the specific regulations.

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