Letter | Published:

Experimental acceleration and slowing of REM sleep ultradian rhythm by cholinergic agonist and antagonist

Nature volume 274, pages 490492 (03 August 1978) | Download Citation

Subjects

Abstract

MAMMALIAN sleep is characterised by the cyclical occurrence of rapid eye movement (REM) and non-REM sleep. In humans, REM sleep (consisting of a desyncronised electroencephalogram (EEG), rapid eye movements, atonic electromyogram (EMG), and usually accompanied by dreaming), occurs every 90–110 min1 and is presumed to be under the control of an underlying ultradian oscillatory mechanism2. The biological basis of the above ultradian rhythm is unknown. Although in humans the amount of REM sleep itself can be experimentally increased3–6 or decreased7–9 by pharmacological and physiological means, none of these manipulations has been shown to alter the frequency of its presumed oscillator. We demonstrate here that a normal 104-min REM sleep ultradian rhythm can be experimentally shortened to a 56-min rhythm by repeated infusions of arecholine, a cholinergic muscarinic agonist10. Conversely, scopolamine, a cholinergic muscarinic antagonist11, prolonged the interval between successive REM periods. We speculate that acetylcholine may have a specific role in the timing of the ultradian oscillatory mechanism controlling REM sleep.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.

from$8.99

All prices are NET prices.

References

  1. 1.

    & Electroencephalogr. clin. Neurophysiol. 9, 673–690 (1957).

  2. 2.

    in Advances in Sleep Research (ed. Weitzman. E. D.) 1, 305–325 (Spectrum, Flushing, 1974).

  3. 3.

    Psychopharmacologia 9, 242–247 (1966).

  4. 4.

    , , , , & Electroencephalogr. clin. Neurophysiol. 30, 505–509 (1971).

  5. 5.

    , , , & Br. J. clin. Pharmac. 2, 107–110 (1975).

  6. 6.

    N.Y. State J. Med. 68, 1135 (1968).

  7. 7.

    , , , , & Electroencephalogr. clin. Neurophysiol. 35, 181–186 (1973).

  8. 8.

    , & Biol. Psychiat. 10(4), 459–464.

  9. 9.

    , & Clin. pharmac. Ther. 10, 522–529 (1969).

  10. 10.

    , , & Nature 230, 439–445 (1971).

  11. 11.

    & Biol. Psychiat. 3, 347–355 (1971).

  12. 12.

    , , & Brain Res. 122, 562–567 (1977).

  13. 13.

    & A Manual of Standardized Terminology, Technique and Scoring System for Sleep State of Human Subjects (Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, Washington, DC, 1968).

  14. 14.

    , , & Nature 265, 360–361 (1977).

  15. 15.

    , & Sleep (in the press).

  16. 16.

    , & Science 189, 55–58 (1975).

  17. 17.

    J. psychiat. Res. 10, 283–306 (1974).

Download references

Author information

Affiliations

  1. Biological Psychiatry Branch, Unit on Sleep Studies, National Institute of Mental Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20014

    • N. SITARAM
    • , ANGELA M. MOORE
    •  & J. CHRISTIAN GILLIN
  2. Laboratory of Clinical Psychopharmacology, St Elizabeth's Hospital, NIMH Washington, DC 20032

    • N. SITARAM
    • , ANGELA M. MOORE
    •  & J. CHRISTIAN GILLIN

Authors

  1. Search for N. SITARAM in:

  2. Search for ANGELA M. MOORE in:

  3. Search for J. CHRISTIAN GILLIN in:

About this article

Publication history

Received

Accepted

Published

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1038/274490a0

Further reading

Comments

By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.