Mitochondria’s role in sleep: Novel insights from sleep deprivation and restriction studies Journal Articles uri icon

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  • OBJECTIVES/METHODS: The biology underlying sleep is not yet fully elucidated, but it is known to be complex and largely influenced by circadian rhythms. Compelling evidence supports of a link among circadian rhythms, sleep and metabolism, which suggests a role for mitochondria. These organelles play a significant role in energy metabolism via oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) and several mitochondrial enzymes display circadian oscillations. However, the interplay between mitochondria and sleep is not as well-known. This review summarises human and animal studies that have examined the role of mitochondria in sleep. Literature searches were conducted using PubMed and Google Scholar. RESULTS: Using various models of sleep deprivation, animal studies support the involvement of mitochondria in sleep via differential gene and protein expression patterns, OXPHOS enzyme activity, and morphology changes. Human studies are more limited but also show differences in OXPHOS enzyme activity and protein levels among individuals who have undergone sleep deprivation or suffer from different forms of insomnia. CONCLUSIONS: Taken altogether, both types of study provide evidence for mitochondria's involvement in the sleep-wake cycle. We briefly discuss the potential clinical implications of these studies.


  • Melhuish Beaupre, Lindsay M
  • Brown, Gregory Michael
  • Braganza, Nicole A
  • Kennedy, James L
  • Gonçalves, Vanessa F

publication date

  • January 2, 2022