National Sleep Disorders Research Plan
arrow image Research Recommendations


Recommendations Index:
Sleep Disorders
New Treatments

Research Recommendations
Research Training

Various Aspects

An improved understanding of all aspects of the neurobiology and functions of sleep is needed. These aspects include:

The neurocircuitry whereby the previously described and yet-to-be-identified cellular systems that modulate state are connected to each other and to other neural systems needs to be characterized. In addition, the neuropharmacology and neuromodulators that mediate neural signaling in sleep and wakefulness and their hierarchy in this process need to be better understood. The genetic and p roteomic mechanisms involved in the generation of sleep and wakefulness also need elucidation. Finally, the phylogeny of sleep needs to be further investigated to help define the functions of sleep.

The neurobiologic basis of the two-process sleep system (homeostatic and circadian) needs to be better characterized regarding the anatomical, physiological and functional links between the two systems and the contribution of each to altered sleep quality and timing.

Further research is needed to better understand how developmental maturation from the fetus to the adult influences all of the neurobiologic processes described above. This would include studies addressing how sleep itself influences neural development and how such development affects sleep at the neurobiologic level.

Investigation is needed of the neurobiological function of sleep as a whole and the independent functions of NREM and REM sleep. Without some grasp of the functional role of sleep in the behavior and survival of an organism, it remains very difficult to understand the development, neurobiology, and importance of sleep to physiologic function.

Enhance our understanding of the impact of reduced or restricted sleep on behavior, and neurobiologic and physiologic functions across the age spectrum from childhood through old age. Studies in this area should address:

The neurobiologic processes mediating sleepiness, state instability, and decrements in specific aspects of neurocognitive performance and alertness: this includes identification of brain structures, proteins, and genes that mediate the neural basis of sleepiness and the neurocognitive performance changes resulting from sleep loss. Also, the neurobiologic processes mediating the restoration of stable wakefulness, alertness and performance require further investigation.

A systematic delineation is needed of the processes involved in, the mechanisms underlying, and the developmental aspects of acute and chronic sleep deprivation on non-neural systems. These systems include endocrine, cardiovascular, immune, hematopoietic, renal, gastrointestinal and muscle.

The effects of sleep loss on behaviors that diminish the safety of both the individual and society in general need to be studied. This includes but is not limited to the transportation industry, the armed services, the space industry, health care, law enforcement and at-risk jobs in the construction, manufacturing and service sectors.

National Institutes of Health (NIH) Department of Health and Human Services (click here) First Gov Website (Click here)
National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (Click Here) National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (Click Here)