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Shortening of the photoperiod affects sleep distribution, EEG and cortical temperature in the Djungarian hamster

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To asses the influence of photoperiod on sleep regulation EEG, EMG, and cortical temperature were continuously recorded for two baseline days and after 4 h sleep deprivation in Djungarian hamsters (Phodopus sungorus) adapted to a short photoperiod (light dark 8∶16). Comparison to previous data collected in a long photoperiod (light∶dark 16∶8) showed several major effects of photoperiod: 1. A prominent change in the 24-h distribution, duration and number of vigilance state episodes, whereas the total amount of sleep and waking was unchanged; 2. Cortical temperature was 0.7°C lower in the short photoperiod; 3. There was a significant negative correlation between cortical temperature and the frequency of REM sleep episodes; and 4. Absolute EEG power density showed a marked reduction in the short photoperiod. After sleep deprivation EEG slow-wave activity (mean power density 0.75–4.0 Hz) in NREM sleep showed a remarkably similar increase in both photoperiods demonstrating the robustness of the homeostatic regulation of sleep. Cortical temperature remained above baseline values after sleep deprivation in the short photoperiod whereas a negative rebound was present in the long photoperiod. Our results support the hypothesis that cortical temperature has a strong influence on REM sleep propensity and indicate the possibility of an optimum cortical temperature for recovery sleep after sleep deprivation. The lower EEG power density in the short photoperiod may contribute to energy conservation.

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LP :

long photoperiod






suprachiasmatic nucleus

SD :

sleep deprivation

SP :

short photoperiod


slow-wave activity


cortical temperature


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Deboer, T., Tobler, I. Shortening of the photoperiod affects sleep distribution, EEG and cortical temperature in the Djungarian hamster. J Comp Physiol A 179, 483–492 (1996).

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Key words

  • Djungarian hamster
  • EEG
  • Photoperiod
  • Sleep deprivation
  • Sleep regulation