Insomnia is among the most commonly experienced symptoms and is associated with significant distress and impairment. The assessment of insomnia is reliant on patient self-report, which is often influenced by a number of factors other than illness severity, complicating accurate diagnosis and treatment. Further, subtypes of insomnia may exist based on the presence or absence of short sleep duration. Identification of a biological ?signature? of insomnia that could facilitate assessment and subtyping would dramatically improve symptom management. Metabolic biomarkers have significant promise for meeting this need. Individuals with insomnia demonstrate metabolic hyperarousal compared to good sleepers. Acute disruption of sleep in the laboratory impacts the metabolome but the extent to which these findings extrapolate to chronic sleep disturbance or insufficient sleep is unknown. Our own data indicate there is a clear metabolic signature that differentiates patients with insomnia from good sleepers. The objective of this study is therefore to investigate the effects of chronic insomnia and insufficient sleep on metabolic profiles. In order to test this hypothesis we will conduct in- depth phenotyping of sleep and metabolism in 100 subjects who are in one of four groups (n=25 per group): 1) patients with insomnia and objective short sleep (<6 hours) on actigraphy; 2) patients with insomnia without objective short sleep (>6 hours); 3) habitual short sleepers (<6 hours) without evidence of insomnia; and 4) good sleepers. Home overnight polysomnography and actigraphy will be used to rule out comorbid sleep disordered breathing and confirm the presence of insomnia. All subjects will participate in a four-day inpatient protocol in the Center for Human Phenomic Science. Food intake will be provided in hourly isocaloric snacks to control for meal-induced shifts in metabolism. The first two days will be used to acclimate subjects to the environment and meals. On the morning of day 3 they will have an indwelling catheter placed for blood sampling every two hours for 48 hours with overnight polysomnography each night. During this time lighting levels will be kept constantly dim (<250 lux) to minimize the effects of light exposure on circadian rhythms. Metabolomics analysis of serum samples will be carried out using NMR and mass spectroscopy. Blood samples will also be used for melatonin and cortisol assays as standard markers of circadian rhythmicity. The global hypothesis that motivates this proposal is that chronic insomnia, insufficient sleep, and their combination are associated with distinct profiles of systemic metabolic dysregulation.

Public Health Relevance

Insomnia symptoms are commonly experienced in most clinical populations and are associated with adverse outcomes and decreased quality of life. There is a critical need to identify an objective marker of insomnia symptoms that can be used to improve assessment and treatment planning in order to reduce the public health burden of poor sleep.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Research Project (R01)
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Biobehavioral Mechanisms of Emotion, Stress and Health Study Section (MESH)
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Hamlet, Michelle R
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University of Pennsylvania
Schools of Medicine
United States
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