Anesthesia and sleep
Tung A, Mendelson WB.
Sleep Research Laboratory,
Departments of Anesthesia and Psychiatry,
University of Chicago,
Chicago, IL 60637, USA.
Sleep Med Rev. 2004 Jun;8(3):213-25.


Although both general anesthesia and naturally occurring sleep depress consciousness, distinct physiological differences exist between the two states. Recent lines of evidence have suggested that sleep and anesthesia may be more similar than previously realized. Localization studies of brain nuclei involved in sleep have indicated that such nuclei are important in anesthetic action. Additional observations that regional brain activity during anesthesia resembles that in the sleeping brain have raised the possibility that anesthesia may exert its effects by activating neuronal networks normally involved in sleep. In animals, behavioral interactions between sleep and anesthesia appear to support these mechanistic similarities. Rat studies demonstrate that sleep debt accrued during prolonged wakefulness dissipate during anesthesia. Moreover, anesthetic potency is subject both to circadian effects and to the degree of prior sleep deprivation. Such interactions may partly explain anesthetic variability among patients. Finally, sleep and anesthesia interact physiologically. Endogenous neuromodulators known to regulate sleep also alter anesthetic action, and anesthetics cause sleep with direct administration into brain nuclei known to regulate sleep. Together, these observations provide new research directions for understanding sleep regulation and generation, and suggest the possibility of new clinical therapies both for patients with sleep disturbances and for sleep deprived patients receiving anesthesia.
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