Chemical Pressures Regulate Patterning of Sleep in Mammals


The regulations of chemicals influence the neural framework behind sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system function. In my prediction, mammals in environments selecting for large sleeping patterns will show more leniency towards parasympathetic genetic expression suggesting that chemicals induce patterns of sleep. Studies on neurophysiology show that there are various chemical mechanisms that are responsible for regulating mammalian sleep.

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A good example of this is the way monoaminergic brain stem nuclei operate. These (monoaminergic brain stem nuclei) are nerve fibers or cells that use monoamine neurotransmitters to transmit nerve impulses. When they are active, they project to the cerebrum of the brain excretions that cause the animal to awaken. In the same way, inhibitory connections between ventrolateral preoptic and monoaminergic nuclei which happens in the sleep active areas of the hypothalamus usually leads to self-inhibition which is by reinforcing self activity (Toth 2003). This inhibiting effect is one that makes up the sleep-wake switch.

In wake, monoaminergic brain stem nuclei are active and the ventrolateral preoptic sleep active area of the hypothalamus (which is the area of the hypothalamus responsible for sleeping tendency) is suppressed while in sleep; and the ventrolateral preoptic sleep active area of the hypothalamus is active while the monoaminergic brain stem nuclei are suppressed when awake. It is the balance of these two chemicals that is responsible for the state transition from wake to sleep or from sleep to wake such that “during the wake period, the homeostatic drive increases due to accumulation of the somnogen following sleep deprivation” (Toth and Verhulst 2003: 229).

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