Sex differences in paradoxical sleep: Influences of estrus cycle and ovariectomy

Jidong Fang, William Fishbein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

96 Scopus citations


Previously, we reported that paradoxical sleep (PS) is sexually dimorphic in mice and rats. Since some early studies indicate that PS is suppressed during proestrus night, it is important to know whether the estrus cycle and accompanying circulating ovarian hormones could explain the sexual dimorphism of PS. To examine this, sleep patterns of male rats were compared with those of normal cycling female rats and ovariectomized females in a 12:12 h light/dark cycle. Slow wave sleep and total sleep time are indistinguishable between the males, cycling females and ovariectomized females. However, normal males display significantly more PS than cycling females during both daytime and nighttime (average of all estrus stages). On the other hand, while ovariectomy has no visible effect on daytime sleep - the sexual dimorphism of PS is unchanged by ovariectomy - during nighttime, ovariectomy produces a selective increase of PS, eliminating the sex difference during the night. In sum, normal cycling females show no change in daytime sleep patterns across the estrus cycle, but have significantly less PS during proestrus nights than during metestrus and diestrus nights. The results indicate that the sex difference in nighttime PS is due to the suppression of PS by ovarian hormones during proestrus and, to a less extent, estrus nights. The sex difference in daytime PS, on the other hand, appears to be independent of circulating ovarian hormones.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)275-285
Number of pages11
JournalBrain research
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 23 1996

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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