Journal of Mathematical Biology

, Volume 25, Issue 3, pp 327–347

Human sleep and circadian rhythms: a simple model based on two coupled oscillators

  • Steven H. Strogatz

DOI: 10.1007/BF00276440

Cite this article as:
Strogatz, S.H. J. Math. Biology (1987) 25: 327. doi:10.1007/BF00276440


We propose a model of the human circadian system. The sleep-wake and body temperature rhythms are assumed to be driven by a pair of coupled nonlinear oscillators described by phase variables alone. The novel aspect of the model is that its equations may be solved analytically. Computer simulations are used to test the model against sleep-wake data pooled from 15 studies of subjects living for weeks in unscheduled, time-free environments. On these tests the model performs about as well as the existing models, although its mathematical structure is far simpler.

Key words

Sleep Circadian Human Model Oscillator 

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Steven H. Strogatz
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of MathematicsHarvard UniversityCambridgeUSA
  2. 2.Department of MathematicsBoston UniversityBostonUSA

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