Power naps and local sleep: is there a connection?

Merkulova K.O., Postnov D.E.

Saratov State University

The most serious consequence of not getting enough sleep at night is daytime sleepiness, leading to cognitive impairment and increased errors at work. Short, non-slow-wave sleep, called power naps, reduces drowsiness and restores alertness and performance. This improvement in human cognitive functions has found application in the work organization of a number of large companies.

To date, there is evidence of a local asynchronous increase in theta activity during wakefulness during sleep deprivation in people engaged in solving a specific task. It is important that for each type of problem there are specific areas of the brain that were involved in the solution. Similar activity is recorded in the shallow stage of NREM2 sleep. It is noteworthy that during recovery short sleep, it was in these areas of the brain that increased slow-wave activity was observed. It has been suggested that local sleep may occur in certain possibly overloaded areas of the brain during wakefulness.

This study examines the suggestion that the restorative effects of power naps can be explained in terms of local sleep. To test the main provisions of this hypothesis, a mathematical model was developed that combines the classical two-process model of system-level sleep-wake switching with a multi-element network of elementary cells of local sleep, each of which simulates the neural response to exogenous (environmental signals) and endogenous (from other cells) noise-like stimuli . The created model is tested using two important special cases, one of which is the overload of a small area of the brain with a specific task, and the other case is a general low level of exogenous stimuli. The main result of the study is the conclusion that overstrain of a particular area of the brain causes local sleep in it, the excess of which can switch the entire system from wakefulness to a sleep state.

The research was supported by RSCF project № 22-15-00143.


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