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Construct: Sleep-Wakefulness

RDoC Classification

Domain: Arousal and Regulatory Systems


Sleep and wakefulness are endogenous, recurring, behavioral states that reflect coordinated changes in the dynamic functional organization of the brain and that optimize physiology, behavior, and health. Homeostatic and circadian processes regulate the propensity for wakefulness and sleep. Sleep:

  1. Is reversible, typically characterized by postural recumbence, behavioral quiescence, and reduced responsiveness;
  2. Has a complex architecture with predictable cycling of NREM/REM states or their developmental equivalents. NREM and REM sleep have distinct neural substrates (circuitry, transmitters, modulators) and EEG oscillatory properties
  3. Intensity and duration is affected by homeostatic regulation;
  4. Is affected by experiences during wakefulness;
  5. Is evident at cellular, circuit, and system levels;
  6. Has restorative and transformative effects that optimize neurobehavioral functions during wakefulness.


Acetylcholine Adenosine CRF Cytokines Dopamine GABA Galanin Glutamate Histamine Hypocretin/Orexin Norepinephrine NPY Serotonin Vasopressin


Anterior hypothalamus and basal forebrain Brainstem (e.g., LC, Raphe, LDT/PPT, VTA) Lateral and perifornical hypothalamus Posterior hypothalamus (TMN) Thalamus (median thalamic nuclei, reticular nucleus)



NREM (Forebrain)

Basal forebrain and anterior hypothalamus projections to arousal promoting cell groups Thalamocortical

REM (Brainstem)

Mesopontine nuclei


Arousal and Circadian Rhythms circuits also subserve wakefulness.


Brain metabolic activity Capacity for wakefulness under low stimulation EEG sleep spindles EEG slow waves EEG theta rhythms EMG EOG NREM sleep and REM sleep Physiologic measures of sleepiness, homeostatic sleep drive during waking Sex-specific sleep physiology sleep hormones sleep latency Temporal and topographic organization of homeostatic sleep drive during sleep Temporal and topographic organization of sleep dynamics wakefulness


Co-sleeping Intermediate/ admixed sleep-wake states Motor behaviors during sleep Rest-activity patterns Sensory arousal threshold Sex-specific sleep behaviors Sleep Sleep deprivation and satiation Sleep inertia Sleep timing and variability Sleep-dependent neurobehavioral functions Wakefulness


Alertness Dream reports Fatigue Insomnia Severity Index Sleep quality, restoration, quantity Sleep timing Sleep-modulated symptoms sleepiness Specific sleep symptoms


Finger Tapping Motor Sequence Task Latency to persistent sleep Multiple sleep latency testing Non-REM Sleep EEG slow wave activity Sleep Spindles Total sleep time Wake time after sleep onset