Quantitative physiologically based modeling of subjective fatigue during sleep deprivation

Ben Fulcher, Andrew J K Phillips, Peter Alexander Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


A quantitative physiologically based model of the sleep-wake switch is used to predict variations in subjective fatigue-related measures during total sleep deprivation. The model includes the mutual inhibition of the sleep-active neurons in the hypothalamic ventrolateral preoptic area (VLPO) and the wake-active monoaminergic brainstem populations (MA), as well as circadian and homeostatic drives. We simulate sleep deprivation by introducing a drive to the MA, which we call wake effort, to maintain the system in a wakeful state. Physiologically this drive is proposed to be afferent from the cortex or the orexin group of the lateral hypothalamus. It is hypothesized that the need to exert this effort to maintain wakefulness at high homeostatic sleep pressure correlates with subjective fatigue levels. The model s output indeed exhibits good agreement with existing clinical time series of subjective fatigue-related measures, supporting this hypothesis. Subjective fatigue, adrenaline, and body temperature variations during two 72. h sleep deprivation protocols are reproduced by the model. By distinguishing a motivation-dependent orexinergic contribution to the wake-effort drive, the model can be extended to interpret variation in performance levels during sleep deprivation in a way that is qualitatively consistent with existing, clinically derived results. The example of sleep deprivation thus demonstrates the ability of physiologically based sleep modeling to predict psychological measures from the underlying physiological interactions that produce them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407 - 419
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Theoretical Biology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes

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