Basic Circadian Timing and Sleep-Wake Regulation

  • Marc Cuesta
  • Philippe Boudreau
  • Diane B. BoivinEmail author


The circadian system represents one of the most important regulatory signaling networks of the brain and periphery. Virtually, every cell can express circadian rhythms through molecular autoregulated feedback core loops. In mammals, the circadian system described in many brain and non-brain structures. Through this organization, the circadian system controls the rhythmicity of many functions, including the regulation of the sleep-wake cycle. In this chapter, we first describe the basic circadian timing and its main properties. Then, following the description of the sleep-wake cycle, we review the mechanisms by which the circadian system controls different aspects related to sleep and wakefulness.


Circadian Clock genes Synchronization Resetting Sleep Sleep homeostasis Chronotype Melatonin Cortisol Core body temperature 



5-hydroxytryptamine or serotonin


Adenosine type 1 receptor


Adenosine type 2a receptor


Arylalkylamine N-acetyltransferase




Adrenocorticotropic hormone


Alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid


Arcuate nucleus


Brain-derived neurotropic factor


Bed nucleus of the stria terminalis


Cyclic adenosine monophosphate


Cyclic guanosine monophosphate


Core body temperature


Clock-controlled genes


Constant routine


Calcium/cAMP response element


CAMP response element binding


Corticotropin-releasing hormone


Dorsomedial nucleus of the hypothalamus


Dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus


Dorsal raphe nuclei




Epidermal growth factor




Extracellular signal-regulated kinases




Gamma-aminobutyric acid




Geniculohypothalamic tract






Interleukin-1 beta


Intermediolateral column


Intergeniculate leaflet


Locus coeruleus


Lateral septum


Laterodorsal tegmental nucleus


Lateral hypothalamus area


Lateral pontine tegmentum


Medial preoptic area


Medial raphe nuclei


Melatonin type 2 receptor




Nitric oxide


Neuropeptide Y


Non-rapid eye movement




Pituitary adenylate cyclase-activating peptide




Pedunculopontine tegmental nucleus

Process C

Circadian process of sleep-wake regulation

Process S

Homeostatic process of sleep-wake regulation




Paraventricular nucleus of the hypothalamus


Paraventricular nucleus of the thalamus


Retinogeniculate tract


ROR-specific response elements


Rapid eye movement


Retinohypothalamic tract


Superior cervical ganglion


Suprachiasmatic nucleus


Sleep efficiency


Sleep latency


Sublaterodorsal nucleus


Subparaventricular zone


Slow-wave activity


Tuberomammillary nucleus


Tumor necrosis factor alpha


Thyrotropin-releasing hormone


Thyroid-stimulating hormone


Total sleep time


Ultradian sleep-wake cycle


Vasoactive intestinal polypeptide


Ventrolateral preoptic area


Ventral periaqueductal gray matter


Wake after sleep onset


Wake maintenance zone




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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marc Cuesta
    • 1
  • Philippe Boudreau
    • 1
  • Diane B. Boivin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryCentre for Study and Treatment of Circadian Rhythms, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill UniversityMontrealCanada

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