A rodent cage change insomnia model disrupts memory consolidation

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© 2018 European Sleep Research Society Insomnia involves disruption of sleep initiation, maintenance and/or overall quality, and may interfere with cognition. Here, we evaluated memory impairment produced by rodent mild (acute) insomnia models. Insomnia models consisted of either single or repeated exposure to cages previously occupied (dirtied) by an unfamiliar rat for 5–7 days. Rats were trained in the Morris water maze to remember the platform location (acquisition), and were then exposed to: (a) 6 hr of undisturbed baseline; (b) dirty cage change-induced insomnia (animal placed into a cage dirtied by another rat for 6 hr); or (c) double-dirty cage change-induced insomnia (animal placed into a cage dirtied by another rat for 3 hr, and then another dirty cage 3 hr later). The animal's memory for the platform location was then evaluated in a probe trial. Double-dirty cage change-induced insomnia significantly disrupted sleep, although the effects of dirty cage change-induced insomnia were overall not significant. In the fourth hour of double-dirty cage change-induced insomnia (following the second cage change), sleep episode number and duration alterations indicated sleep fragmentation. Furthermore, power spectral analysis revealed diminished wake and, to a lesser extent, rapid eye movement theta power (indicated by trend difference) in the last 3 hr of exposure. Significant deficits were noted for measures of water maze performance following double-dirty cage change-induced insomnia, indicating impaired memory. In summary, one variant of the rodent insomnia model, double-dirty cage change-induced insomnia, disrupted sleep and attenuated memory consolidation, indicating this paradigm may be useful to evaluate the effects of hypnotics on memory consolidation.

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