Effects of aging on sleep regulation

Principal Investigator:  Irwin Feinberg, M.D.

Sleep serves a recuperative function for the brain. This need for recuperation accumulates during waking and is met during non rapid-eye movement (NREM) sleep.  The slow wave EEG that characterizes NREM sleep appears to reflect the intensity of the recuperation process.  In the UC Davis Sleep Lab we are studying two aspects of this homeostatic sleep regulation.

We are investigating in humans how aging affects sleep regulation.  Through nap studies we are comparing the recuperative processes of sleep in young adult and elderly subjects. In rats we are investigating the role of the NMDA receptor in sleep regulation.  We have found that drugs that block the NMDA receptor greatly increase subsequent NREM slow wave EEG.  We are investigating related drugs and attempting to determine where in the brain they act to increase slow wave EEG.