Circadian rhythms and sleep—the metabolic connection

  • Urs AlbrechtEmail author
Invited Review


The circadian system coordinates mammalian physiology and behavior with the environmental light–dark cycle. It allocates sleep to the inactivity phase using various mechanisms involving neurotransmitters, nuclear receptors, and protein kinases. These pathways are related to metabolism, indicating that the circadian system and sleep are connected via metabolic parameters. This suggests that organs other than the brain may “sleep.” A hypothetic view on this aspect is presented providing a different perspective on sleep regulation.


Nuclear receptors Neurotransmitters Protein kinases Metabolism AMPK Cell death Apoptosis Adenosine ATP release Catecholamines cGMP Circadian rhythm Gene expression Liver Neuroendocrinology Protein kinase Sleep apnea 



I would like to thank Dr. Jürgen Ripperger for critical reading of the manuscript. U.A. is supported by the Swiss National Science foundation (SNF), the State of Fribourg, and the Japanese–Swiss Science and Technology Programme.


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© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biology, Unit of BiochemistryUniversity of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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