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Keywords:

  • glucocorticoids;
  • locomotor activity;
  • metabolism;
  • obstructive sleep apnea

Summary

Sleep fragmentation is present in numerous sleep pathologies and constitutes a major feature of patients with obstructive sleep apnea. A prevalence of metabolic syndrome, diabetes and obesity has been shown to be associated to obstructive sleep apnea. While sleep fragmentation has been shown to impact sleep homeostasis, its specific effects on metabolic variables are only beginning to emerge. In this context, it is important to develop realistic animal models that would account for chronic metabolic effects of sleep fragmentation. We developed a 14-day model of instrumental sleep fragmentation in mice, and show an impact on both brain-specific and general metabolism. We first report that sleep fragmentation increases food intake without affecting body weight. This imbalance was accompanied by the inability to adequately decrease brain temperature during fragmented sleep. In addition, we report that sleep-fragmented mice develop glucose intolerance. We also observe that sleep fragmentation slightly increases the circadian peak level of glucocorticoids, a factor that may be involved in the observed metabolic effects. Our results confirm that poor-quality sleep with sustained sleep fragmentation has similar effects on general metabolism as actual sleep loss. Altogether, these results strongly suggest that sleep fragmentation is an aggravating factor for the development of metabolic dysfunctions that may be relevant for sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea.