Neuronal and Astrocytic Partnerships for Sleep physiology laboratory

Reaching for the caffeine to stay awake? We have all felt sleepy. All of us have some excuse as to why we haven't had enough sleep- whether it is late-night social gatherings, addictive smart phone apps, urgent deadlines, or Netflix binges. The problem is that consecutive nights of lost sleep, or jetlag from hopping time zones, leads to poor brain function, impaired productivity, and negative health impacts. So why is sleep essential?

The importance of sleep, or sleep-like behaviour is demonstrated by the fact this state is evolutionarily conserved across multiple organisms ranging from fish and worms, to mice and humans alike. Sleep permits the crucial reshaping of neuronal connections to ensure the brain can constantly remodel memories and regenerate for the next day's demands. Yet how does the brain know that we are sneakily cutting down those crucial hours of shut-eye? How can the brain sense sleep need?

NAPs lab aims to study how the brain senses sleep and to identify which brain cells are responsible for translating sleep need into actual sleep time. What makes sleep deeper and more efficient after extended sleeplessness? We also want to elucidate how the relationship between neurons and astrocytes may contribute to the orchestration of sleep. To begin to answer these questions, we will measure the sleep patterns of mice and utilitze cutting-edge technologies including transcriptional profiling, viral tracing, chemogenetics, and optical recording/manipulation to identify, characterise, observe, and manipulate cell populations involved in sleep.