Dynamics of sleep/wake determination - normal and abnormal

Mark Mahowald, Carlos H Schenck, Kevin A. O'Connor

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Virtually all members of the animal kingdom experience a relentless and powerful cycling of states of being: wakefulness, rapid eye movement sleep, and nonrapid eye movement sleep. Each of these states is composed of a number of physiologic variables generated in a variety of neural structures. The predictable oscillations of these states are driven by presumed neural pacemakers which are entrained to the 24 h geophysical environment by the light/dark cycle. Experiments in nature have indicated that wake/sleep rhythm perturbations may occur either involving desynchronization of the basic 24 h wake/sleep cycle within the geophysical 24 h cycle (circadian rhythm disturbances) or involving the rapid oscillation or incomplete declaration of state (such as narcolepsy). The use of phase spaces to describe states of being may be of interest in the description of state determination in both illness and health. Some fascinating clinical and experimental phenomena may represent bifurcations in the sleep/wake control system.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)287-298
Number of pages12
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jan 1 1991


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