Why We Sleep: Adenosine and Homeostasis

tiredYou all know how important sleep is and how tired and lousy you feel when you don’t get it. You know it’s important to your mental and physical health, but most people don’t really understand their need for sleep. They know their bodies need rest to function properly and feel energetic, but they don’t really know why. In today’s sleep blog, your Livonia, MI dentist, Dr. James Stewart, discusses adenosine and homeostasis two major factors involved with what makes you sleep.


Homeostasis is a sleep-wake mechanism in your brain similar to the circadian rhythm.  Regardless of years of research, homeostasis is much less understood than the circadian biological clock. Today Dr. Stewart explains one chemical that sleep researchers know is involved in homeostasis.  An understanding of the chemical adenosine is a prerequisite to understanding homeostasis, which Dr. Stewart will explain in his next sleep blog.


Adenosine is a nucleoside that occurs naturally in the cells of the body. A nucleoside is an organic compound that is usually released during the decomposition of nucleic acids, and is an important factor in physiological and medical research. Although probably not the only one, adenosine is the one known substance that helps regulate sleep during homeostasis. Operating as a neuromodulator as do serotonin and dopamine, it is distributed throughout large areas of the nervous system inhibiting certain bodily processes associated with alertness or being awake. As your body uses up its daily store of energy, adenosine builds up making you feel sleepy. During rest, adenosine decreases and is replaced with stores of energy in the form of glycogen. Stimulants such as caffeine block the ability of adenosine to make you feel sleepy, keeping you alert as a result.

About Dr. Stewart

James R. Stewart, Jr, DDS, PC and our compassionate staff proudly serve patients of all ages from Livonia, Farmington Hills, Plymouth, Northville, Dearborn Heights, Garden City, and all surrounding communities. If you think you or a loved one is dealing with a sleep disorder, call our office today at (734) 425-4400, to schedule an appointment. At Dental sleep Medicine of Michigan, we are committed to forming trusting relationships with our patients so we can work together to achieve sound treatment and a future full of restful nights.