2008 Volume 128 Issue 3 Pages 405-411
Recent findings have increasingly shown that sleep patterns are significantly influenced by psychological stress, such as social defeat, novelty stress, contextual fear stress, and psychological stress induced by the communication box. However, the exact association between psychological stress and sleep is still poorly understood. Therefore, in the present paper we will review related work based on our recent investigations. We have previously reported that total rapid eye movement (REM) sleep, but not non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep that is enhanced by psychological stress induced by the communication box in rats (Cui et al., 2007). In past decades strong evidence showed that neurotransmitters play a key role in the variations of the sleep patterns, such as acetylcholine, GABA and others. In addition to neurotransmitters, the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis is another important factor which influences sleep patterns. Therefore, this review will focus on the involvement of the neurotransmitters and the HPA axis in the changes of sleep patterns in response to psychological stress.