From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wakefulness is a daily recurring brain state and state of consciousness in which an individual is conscious and engages in coherent cognitive and behavioral responses to the external world.

Being awake is the opposite of being asleep, in which most external inputs to the brain are excluded from neural processing.[1][2][3][4]

Effects upon the brain[edit]

The longer the brain has been awake, the greater the synchronous firing rates of cerebral cortex neurons. After sustained periods of sleep, both the speed and synchronicity of the neurons firing are shown to decrease.[5]

Another effect of wakefulness is the reduction of glycogen held in the astrocytes, which supply energy to the neurons. Studies have shown that one of sleep's underlying functions is to replenish this glycogen energy source.[6]

Maintenance by the brain[edit]

Wakefulness is produced by a complex interaction between multiple neurotransmitter systems arising in the brainstem and ascending through the midbrain, hypothalamus, thalamus and basal forebrain.[7] The posterior hypothalamus plays a key role in the maintenance of the cortical activation that underlies wakefulness. Several systems originating in this part of the brain control the shift from wakefulness into sleep and sleep into wakefulness. Histamine neurons in the tuberomammillary nucleus and nearby adjacent posterior hypothalamus project to the entire brain and are the most wake-selective system so far identified in the brain.[8] Another key system is that provided by the orexins (also known as hypocretins) projecting neurons. These exist in areas adjacent to histamine neurons and like them project widely to most brain areas and associate with arousal.[9] Orexin deficiency has been identified as responsible for narcolepsy.[10]

Research suggests that orexin and histamine neurons play distinct, but complementary roles in controlling wakefulness with orexin being more involved with wakeful behavior and histamine with cognition and activation of cortical EEG.[11]

It has been suggested the fetus is not awake, with wakefulness occurring in the newborn due to the stress of being born and the associated activation of the locus coeruleus.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Sleep, dreams and wakefulness". univ-lyon1.fr. Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  2. ^ "Wakefulness, Alertness, Sleep, and Dreams". www.csun.edu. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  3. ^ "The Consequences of Excessive Wakefulness". Damn Interesting. Retrieved 15 April 2019.
  4. ^ Martin, Richard (1 November 2003). "It's Wake-Up Time". Wired. Retrieved 15 April 2019 – via www.wired.com.
  5. ^ Vyazovskiy, VV; Olcese, U; Lazimy, YM; Faraguna, U; Esser, SK; Williams, JC; Cirelli, C; Tononi, G (2009). "Cortical firing and sleep homeostasis". Neuron. 63 (6): 865–78. doi:10.1016/j.neuron.2009.08.024. PMC 2819325. PMID 19778514.
  6. ^ Benington, JH; Heller, HC (1995). "Restoration of brain energy metabolism as the function of sleep". Progress in Neurobiology. 45 (4): 347–60. doi:10.1016/0301-0082(94)00057-O. PMID 7624482. S2CID 39737626.
  7. ^ Brown, RE; Basheer, R; McKenna, JT; Strecker, RE; McCarley, RW (2012). "Control of Sleep and Wakefulness". Physiological Reviews. 92 (3): 1087–1187. doi:10.1152/physrev.00032.2011. PMC 3621793. PMID 22811426.</
  8. ^ Takahashi, K; Lin, JS; Sakai, K (2006). "Neuronal activity of histaminergic tuberomammillary neurons during wake-sleep states in the mouse". Journal of Neuroscience. 26 (40): 10292–8. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2341-06.2006. PMC 6674640. PMID 17021184.
  9. ^ Sakurai, T (2007). "The neural circuit of orexin (hypocretin): maintaining sleep and wakefulness". Nature Reviews. Neuroscience. 8 (3): 171–81. doi:10.1038/nrn2092. PMID 17299454. S2CID 8932862.
  10. ^ Chemelli, RM; Willie, JT; Sinton, CM; Elmquist, JK; Scammell, T; Lee, C; Richardson, JA; Williams, SC; Xiong, Y (1999). "Narcolepsy in orexin knockout mice: molecular genetics of sleep regulation". Cell. 98 (4): 437–51. doi:10.1016/S0092-8674(00)81973-X. PMID 10481909.
  11. ^ Anaclet, C.; Parmentier, R.; Ouk, K.; Guidon, G.; Buda, C.; Sastre, J.-P.; Akaoka, H.; Sergeeva, O. A.; Yanagisawa, M. (2009). "Orexin/Hypocretin and Histamine: Distinct Roles in the Control of Wakefulness Demonstrated Using Knock-Out Mouse Models". Journal of Neuroscience. 29 (46): 14423–14438. doi:10.1523/JNEUROSCI.2604-09.2009. PMC 2802289. PMID 19923277.
  12. ^ Lagercrantz, H (2009). "The birth of consciousness". Early Human Development. 85 (10 Suppl): S57–8. doi:10.1016/j.earlhumdev.2009.08.017. PMID 19762170.

External links[edit]

The dictionary definition of wakefulness at Wiktionary