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How (and why) do we sleep?

Sleep is evolutionarily conserved across species. We can't live without it. Sleep is important for maintaining physical and mental health, and sleep disruption contributes to numerous diseases, disorders, and dysfunctions. Despite the influence sleep has over nearly every aspect of daily life, the questions of how and why we sleep remain unresolved. Understanding how we sleep is critical for understanding the causes and consequences of abnormal sleep and may even solve the question of why we sleep.

Miniscope imaging of astrocyte calcium activity as a mouse naturally cycles through non-rapid eye movement sleep (NREMS), rapid eye movement sleep (REMS), and wakefulness (shown 16x faster).

​Most of what we know about sleep is based on the study of neurons. But we showed non-neuronal glial cells called astrocytes also play a role. The Ingiosi Lab studies how astrocytes and their interactions with neurons contribute to sleep expression and sleep homeostasis—an innate regulatory process that balances sleep need, sleep intensity, and sleep amount based on prior time spent awake. Determining the cellular and molecular underpinnings of sleep expression and homeostasis is fundamental to understanding normal and abnormal sleep as well as its impacts on other biological processes and functions.

We use a multifaceted approach that combines electroencephalography, electromyography, dynamic in vivo imaging (e.g., miniscopes), chemogenetics, optogenetics, and molecular techniques to figure out how sleep is regulated at the molecular, cellular, and circuit levels while also monitoring behavior and physiology.

We are very grateful to those who fund our work including the NIH BRAIN Initiative, Sleep Research Society Foundation, and the OSU College of Medicine

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