Sleep and sleep homeostasis in constant darkness in the rat
According to the two-process model of sleep regulation, a homeostatic Process S increases during waking and decreases during sleep. The time course of Process S can be derived on the basis of changes in vigilance states and changes in electroencephalogram slow-wave activity (SWA, activity below 4 Hz) during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep. In most mouse strains, an optimal fit between S and SWA was achieved with one increasing (active during waking and REM sleep) and one decreasing time constant (active during NREM sleep) for Process S. However, in the rat, systematic deviations in the light and dark periods were observed, which were resolved by introducing different decreasing time constants between the light and dark periods. The present study shows that this difference between the rest (light) and active (dark) phases remains, and may even be larger, after animals are adapted to constant dark conditions for at least a week. In addition, the data show that the build-up rate of SWA at the onset of a NREM sleep episode is slow compared with the increase rate under light–dark conditions, and that this build-up rate changes with the circadian phase. The slow build-up rate introduces a systematic error between the simulation of Process S and SWA in NREM sleep. The circadian modulation of the build-up rate may, together with circadian changes in NREM sleep episode duration, be the source of the necessity of introducing a difference in the decreasing time constant between the rest and active phases.