Neuroscience of Sleep
We spend about 1/3 of our life asleep and we still do not know why. Although consequences of insufficient or disrupted sleep have major health, societal and economic implications, the importance of sleep is often underappreciated. Sleep is a fundamental biological process of vital importance for health, and insufficient or disrupted sleep has been linked to a broad range of neurological and metabolic disorders. Poor sleep is among the most prevalent complaints observed in epidemiological studies, and the second most common overall complaint reported in primary care settings after pain. Crucially, despite decades of research many fundamental questions remain, such as why sleep deprivation impacts brain function and what are the specific mechanisms that convey the benefits of sleep to the brain and the body.
Understanding the physiological basis of sleep regulation is necessary before progress can be made towards understanding the role of sleep and sleep disruption in disease. Sleep is a highly complex phenomenon, and therefore we are using a broad range of experimental and theoretical approaches and models. Our ongoing projects address mechanisms and functions of sleep from various angles and using a range of methodologies, including in vivo electrophysiology, mathematical modelling, pharmacology, molecular biology, opto/pharmacogenetics, metabolic and circadian phenotyping.
The central questions we address are:
1. The origin and function of brain oscillations during sleep;
2. Network and molecular mechanisms of sleep homeostasis;
3. The relationship between sleep, metabolism and torpor in laboratory mice and hamsters;
4. The effects of light on regulation of sleep in mice;
5. The role of 5-HT2A neurotransmission on sleep and behaviour in mice;
6. The link between local sleep and cellular stress;
7. Neurophysiological mechanisms of sensory processing during sleep;
8. Effects of environmental factors on sleep in laboratory rodents
Our research is funded by the Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council, NC3Rs, Novo-Nordisk - Oxford Fellowship Programme, John Fell Fund and The Oxford Interdisciplinary Bioscience Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) programme.