The effect of exercise on sleep regulation, cognitive performance, mental health and mood.

Project: Funded by Third Parties

Project participants


Research Objective

Sleep disruption is one of the main complaints during previous Antarctic expeditions, whether these are summer stays or overwintering campaigns. The ASMo (Antarctic sleep monitoring) project investigated sleep, sleep-wake regulation, circadian rhythms, physical activity, mood and attentional performance during two summer expeditions: the BELARE (Belgian Antarctic Research Expedition) campaigns 2007-2008 and 2008-2009. Results showed poor sleep efficiency and high sleep fractionation. A dramatic decrease in slow wave sleep and an increase in rapid eye movement sleep were evidenced. Cortisol rhythmicity was preserved and was remarkably synchronized among participants. Melatonin secretion however, showed a severe phase delay. There was a strong correlation between sleep efficiency and active energy expenditure indicating that exercise could have positive effects on these parameters. Experimental evidence indicates that physical exercise has a positive effect on brain functioning including cerebral blood flow, cognition, neurogenesis, neurotransmitter release and mood. Our previous research within the MARS105 study showed a positive effect of exercise on the isolation induced decrease in brain cortical function and mood.
Recent evidence demonstrates rhythmic clock gene expression in tissues (such as peripheral mononuclear cells) other than the suprachiasmatic nucleus and this suggests that functional clocks exist outside the central circadian pacemaker of the brain. The impact of different conditions (confinement, exercise, etc.) on circadian gene expression and the link with physiology and psychology is largely unknown. The application of gene expression analysis in combination with behavioural endpoints is initiated in the BEACON (Assessment of biomarkers for behavioral adaptation and health during isolated stay in Concordia) project during the overwintering 2009-2010. The present proposal [ESCOM] aims at investigating the link between sleep, circadian rhythms and exercise, as well as the effects of an active exercise intervention on mood and performance in an overwintering context. This project will give an insight on the following points : (1) Sleep-wake regulation is altered in both summer and winter periods, albeit through different mechanisms. (2) Exercise has a positive effect on sleep quality, and is a candidate countermeasure for circadian desynchronisation. (3) Exercise might counteract the potential disruption of cognitive performance and improve overall mood. (4) Altered sleep-wake regulation can be measured using gene expression analysis in blood. The effects of exercise on sleep regulation and cognitive performance will also be reflected at a molecular level.
Life span01.01.1031.12.12

ID: 718300

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