A social conflict increases EEG slow-wave activity during subsequent sleep

Meerlo, P., de Bruin, EA., Strijkstra, AM. & Daan, S., 2001, In : Physiology & Behavior. 73, p. 331-335

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Electroencephalogram (EEG) slow-wave activity (SWA) during non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep is widely viewed as an indicator of sleep debt and sleep intensity. In a previous study, we reported a strong increase in SWA during NREM sleep after a social conflict in rats. To test whether this increase in SWA reflects normal physiological sleep or an unrelated by-product of the stress, we now measured the effect of a conflict in combination with extended sleep deprivation by means of gentle handling. We anticipated that if the social defeat-induced SWA reflects a true sleep debt, the drive for it would persist during the extended wakefulness. Male rats were subjected to a l-h social conflict followed by 5 h of sleep deprivation by gentle handling or to 6 h gentle handling alone. The manipulations took place during the second half of the dark phase and recovery sleep was recorded during the subsequent light phase. Neither of thr two procedures caused a significant change in the total duration of NREM or REM sleep thereafter. Yet, both modes of sleep deprivation induced a strong increase in SWA during NREM sleep. This SWA was significantly higher for 6 h after sleep deprivation consisting of a social conflict followed by gentle handling, as compared to sleep deprivation by handling alone. Thus, the SWA increasing effect of the conflict persisted during the extended wakefulness. The data confirm that social defeat stress accelerates the build up of sleep debt and support the notion that sleep debt and subsequent NREM sleep intensity not only depend on the duration of prior wakefulness but also on what animals experience during that waking.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)331-335
JournalPhysiology & Behavior
Publication statusPublished - 2001
EventInternational Workshop on Social Stress: Acute and Long-Term Effects on Physiology and Behavior - , Italy
Duration: 31-Aug-20002-Sep-2000


International Workshop on Social Stress: Acute and Long-Term Effects on Physiology and Behavior



Event: Other


  • sleep, sleep homeostasis, sleep function, slow wave sleep, slow wave activity, EEG deltapower, sleep deprivation, gentle handling, social stimuli, social stress, social conflict, social defeat

ID: 3953195