Understanding the mechanisms behind sleep dysfunction critical to overall health

Mar 4, 2019, 09:32 AM by Sara Kruper

Sleep affects our health in numerous ways and as a result is a very popular area of research.  Health issues can arise from poor sleep quality including hypertension, metabolic disorders, obesity, and more.  In addition, sleep disturbances can develop because of certain disorders or injuries including, but not limited to, mood disorders, neurodegenerative diseases, psychiatric disorders, and traumatic brain injury. 

How Sleep is Measured

As sleep is vital to a healthy life and disturbances are extremely common, it is important to understand why disturbances happen, how they lead to other issues, and how to improve sleep quality.  To measure sleep, researchers will typically look at electroencephalogram (EEG) and electromyogram (EMG), or muscle movement.  Some studies also incorporate electrooculogram (EOG) for eye movement to look at sleep cycles.  Other potential endpoints of interest include temperature, blood pressure, and neuroendocrine function to gain additional insight into the circadian process.

EEG human mouse rat

Recent Sleep Publications Citing Use of DSI Technology

Mathematical modeling of sleep state dynamics in a rodent model of shift work

Despite fighting their body’s natural time clock, millions of people work night shifts around the world.  Night shift workers have been shown to experience higher levels of sleep difficulty and insomnia than the general population and more accidents at work.  This research team created a rodent model of shiftwork in an effort to better understand sleep architecture differences between night shift workers and those who work normal hours.  They used DSI’s 4ET and F40-EET telemetry implants to measure EEG and EMG and assessed sleep-wake patterns with Neuroscore software.  Through this study, they developed a mathematical framework which can be used to better understand possible mechanisms underlying the sleep disturbances seen in shift work.1

sleeping rat

Perinatal Immune Activation Produces Persistent Sleep Alterations and Epileptiform Activity in Male Mice

Previous studies have shown immune activation during critical developmental periods can cause phenotypes to replicate fundamental characteristics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) including sleep disorders, motor hyperactivity, and seizures.  This study aimed to produce these comorbidities in a mouse model of ASD with immune activation.  The research team used DSI’s F20-EET telemetry implant to measure EEG, EMG, temperature, and locomotor activity in six week old mice.  They looked at the effects of immune activation again at 7 and 12 weeks of age and saw changes in activity and temperature patterns, increases in slow-wave sleep, as well as shifts in EEG spectral power.  Spontaneous seizure activity also occurred, most often during sleep.  The results showed immune activation at a young age, can lead to chronic physiologic perturbations similar to comorbidities associated with ASD and other psychiatric disorders.2

DSI Solutions for Sleep Research


DSI offers a fully implanted solution allowing continuous data collection from freely moving animals.  Researchers have the ability to measure EEG, EMG, EOG, temperature, and activity with DSI telemetry.  They can also combine those endpoints with blood pressure if they are interested in looking at the impact of sleep deprivation on cardiovascular health.  Poor sleep quality is also related to the development of metabolic disorders.  As a result, researchers may also be interested in looking at blood glucose levels.  DSI offers an implant capable of measuring glucose continuously in animals ranging in size from mouse to primate.  If measuring glucose simultaneously with biopotentials and/or blood pressure is desired, it is possible to implant both the glucose implant and a pressure/biopotential device into one rat to gain full insight into metabolic circadian rhythm.3

Visit our combined applications page to learn how telemetry can be combined with multiple other technologies to look at additional comorbidities with sleep.


DSI also offers a minimally invasive method to collect continuous measurement of biopotentials (typically EEG, EMG, EOG) during central nervous system studies with small animals.  Hardwired solutions allow the use of a tether to monitor up to 12 biopotential channels.   


Simplify data collection and analysis with DSI’s software solutions.  Ponemah allows for easy acquisition of endpoint data relevant to sleep research and import into Neuroscore for analysis.  DSI’s NeuroScore™ software can be used for efficiently analyzing chronic data sets and scoring sleep data.


If you’re interested in learning more about DSI’s solutions for sleep and other neuroscience research, download our free whitepaper or schedule a free consultation with us to discuss your research goals.



1Rempe MJ, Grønli J, Pedersen TT, Mrdalj J, Marti A, Meerlo P, Wisor JP. (2018). “Mathematical modeling of sleep state dynamics in a rodent model of shift work”. Neurobiology of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms. 5, 37-51. 

2Missig G, Mokler EL, Robbins JO, Alexander AJ, McDougle CJ, Carlezon Jr WA. (2017). “Perinatal Immune Activation Produces Persistent Sleep Alterations and Epileptiform Activity in Male Mice”. Neuropsychopharmacology. 43, 482–491. 

3Main B, Holliday-White K, Bogie H, Lillegard KE, Lindquist R. (2016). “Unlocking a more comprehensive assessment of diet with continuous, chronic blood glucose and complete hemodynamic monitoring in rodents”. FASEB. 30(1).

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