Sleep pp 45-60 | Cite as

The major physiological functions during sleep



In recent decades we have begun to understand the role of sleep in the vital functions. Three types of sleep and wakefulness are distinguishable in all mammals: wakefulness, NREM sleep and REM sleep. For each of these states, regulation is both global and specific to our different physiological systems, attesting to the existence of a real sleep-related physiology. The major physiological functions, whether ventilatory, cardio-vascular or endocrine, have been explored during sleep to define the changes that occur and determine the main factors involved in regulating them. A disruption of the major vital functions during sleep lies at the origin of several pathological states whose clinical manifestations may be exclusively nocturnal or diurnal or may affect the entire sleep-wake cycle. Research has also focused on a number of other important functions such as the digestive functions, sexual functions and thermoregulation during sleep. Finally, more recently, with the development of new technologies in functional neuro-imagery, it has become possible to determine the levels of global and regional activity of the cerebral metabolism, in different states of sleep and wakefulness, adding to our understanding of cerebral functioning during sleep.


Sleep Deprivation Sleep Onset NREM Sleep Periodic Breathing Renin Secretion 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Service de Neurologie BHôpital Gui de ChauliacMontpellierFrance

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