A rodent model of night-shift work induces short-term and enduring sleep and electroencephalographic disturbances

Grønli, J., Meerlo, P., Pedersen, T. T., Pallesen, S., Skrede, S., Marti, A. R., Wisor, J. P., Murison, R., Henriksen, T. E. G., Rempe, M. J. & Mrdalj, J., Feb-2017, In : Journal of Biological Rhythms. 32, 1, p. 48-63 16 p.

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  • A Rodent Model of Night-Shift Work Induces Short-Term and Enduring Sleep and Electroencephalographic Disturbances

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  • Janne Grønli
  • Peter Meerlo
  • Torhild T Pedersen
  • Ståle Pallesen
  • Silje Skrede
  • Andrea R Marti
  • Jonathan P Wisor
  • Robert Murison
  • Tone E G Henriksen
  • Michael J Rempe
  • Jelena Mrdalj

Millions of people worldwide are working at times that overlap with the normal time for sleep. Sleep problems related to the work schedule may mediate the well-established relationship between shift work and increased risk for disease, occupational errors and accidents. Yet, our understanding of causality and the underlying mechanisms that explain this relationship is limited. We aimed to assess the consequences of night-shift work for sleep and to examine whether night-shift work-induced sleep disturbances may yield electrophysiological markers of impaired maintenance of the waking brain state. An experimental model developed in rats simulated a 4-day protocol of night-work in humans. Two groups of rats underwent 8-h sessions of enforced ambulation, either at the circadian time when the animal was physiologically primed for wakefulness (active-workers, mimicking day-shift) or for sleep (rest-workers, mimicking night-shift). The 4-day rest-work schedule induced a pronounced redistribution of sleep to the endogenous active phase. Rest-work also led to higher electroencephalogram (EEG) slow-wave (1-4 Hz) energy in quiet wakefulness during work-sessions, suggesting a degraded waking state. After the daily work-sessions, being in their endogenous active phase, rest-workers slept less and had higher gamma (80-90 Hz) activity during wake than active-workers. Finally, rest-work induced an enduring shift in the main sleep period and attenuated the accumulation of slow-wave energy during NREM sleep. A comparison of recovery data from 12:12 LD and constant dark conditions suggests that reduced time in NREM sleep throughout the recorded 7-day recovery phase induced by rest-work may be modulated by circadian factors. Our data in rats show that enforced night-work-like activity during the normal resting phase has pronounced acute and persistent effects on sleep and waking behavior. The study also underscores the potential importance of animal models for future studies on the health consequences of night-shift work and the mechanisms underlying increased risk for diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-63
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Biological Rhythms
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Feb-2017



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