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Biological mechanisms regulating sleep

Sleep occupies about a third of human life and is a physiological state tightly regulated by homeostatic and circadian mechanisms. Whilst the circadian process tells us when is the best time to go to sleep, the homeostatic process regulates sleep intensity and duration. The longer we stay awake, the more intense the following sleep. We are particularly interested in understanding how the brain keeps track of waking experience's richness and duration and translates it into the need for a deeper, longer sleep. Our research is focused on the brain circuits and molecular mechanisms involved in sleep homeostasis.

We hope to apply this knowledge to treat mental conditions in which sleep homeostasis is impaired. 

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The price of sleep loss

Sleep disruption is developing into a major problem in modern societies and the health consequences of insufficient sleep are numerous and impactful. Our organism responds to sleep disruption with rapid and extensive changes at molecular, biochemical, and functional levels. These modifications are adaptative at first, but, over time, they may become maladaptive, leading to lasting and serious consequences. Our research aims at elucidating the short- and long-term effects of sleep disruption at cellular and system levels.

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The benefits of sleep

Despite the functions of sleep remain unclear, there is no doubt that sleep is beneficial for our health in many ways. It is not surprising therefore that there is great interest in developing new approaches that aim at enhancing sleep. Recent research has shown that enhancing sleep can be carried out in a drug-free manner and non-intrusively using sensory stimulation during sleep. Our goal is to study the therapeutic potential of these approaches.