State-dependent metabolic partitioning and energy conservation: A theoretical framework for understanding the function of sleep.

Schmidt, Markus H.; Swang, Theodore W; Hamilton, Ian M; Best, Janet A (2017). State-dependent metabolic partitioning and energy conservation: A theoretical framework for understanding the function of sleep. PLoS ONE, 12(10), e0185746. Public Library of Science 10.1371/journal.pone.0185746

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Metabolic rate reduction has been considered the mechanism by which sleep conserves energy, similar to torpor or hibernation. This mechanism of energy savings is in conflict with the known upregulation (compared to wake) of diverse functions during sleep and neglects a potential role in energy conservation for partitioning of biological operations by behavioral state. Indeed, energy savings as derived from state-dependent resource allocations have yet to be examined. A mathematical model is presented based on relative rates of energy deployment for biological processes upregulated during either wake or sleep. Using this model, energy savings from sleep-wake cycling over constant wakefulness is computed by comparing stable limit cycles for systems of differential equations. A primary objective is to compare potential energy savings derived from state-dependent metabolic partitioning versus metabolic rate reduction. Additionally, energy conservation from sleep quota and the circadian system are also quantified in relation to a continuous wake condition. As a function of metabolic partitioning, our calculations show that coupling of metabolic operations with behavioral state may provide comparatively greater energy savings than the measured decrease in metabolic rate, suggesting that actual energy savings derived from sleep may be more than 4-fold greater than previous estimates. A combination of state-dependent metabolic partitioning and modest metabolic rate reduction during sleep may enhance energy savings beyond what is achievable through metabolic partitioning alone; however, the relative contribution from metabolic partitioning diminishes as metabolic rate is decreased during the rest phase. Sleep quota and the circadian system further augment energy savings in the model. Finally, we propose that state-dependent resource allocation underpins both sleep homeostasis and the optimization of daily energy conservation across species. This new paradigm identifies an evolutionary selective advantage for the upregulation of central and peripheral biological processes during sleep, presenting a unifying construct to understand sleep function.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


04 Faculty of Medicine > Department of Head Organs and Neurology (DKNS) > Clinic of Neurology

UniBE Contributor:

Schmidt, Markus


600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health




Public Library of Science




Chantal Kottler

Date Deposited:

06 Jul 2020 16:47

Last Modified:

05 Aug 2020 16:33

Publisher DOI:


PubMed ID:





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