Background Disruption of rhythms in activity and rest occur in many diseases, and provide an important indicator of healthy physiology and behaviour. However, outside the field of sleep and circadian rhythm research, these rhythmic processes are rarely measured due to the requirement for specialised resources and expertise. Until recently, the primary approach to measuring activity in laboratory rodents has been based on voluntary running wheel activity. By contrast, measuring sleep requires the use of electroencephalography (EEG), which involves invasive surgical procedures and time-consuming data analysis. Methods Here we describe a simple, non-invasive system to measure home cage activity in mice based upon passive infrared (PIR) motion sensors. Careful calibration of this system will allow users to simultaneously assess sleep status in mice. The use of open-source tools and simple sensors keeps the cost and the size of data-files down, in order to increase ease of use and uptake. Results In addition to providing accurate data on circadian activity parameters, here we show that extended immobility of >40 seconds provides a reliable indicator of sleep, correlating well with EEG-defined sleep (Pearson's r >0.95, 4 mice). Conclusions Whilst any detailed analysis of sleep patterns in mice will require EEG, behaviourally-defined sleep provides a valuable non-invasive means of simultaneously phenotyping both circadian rhythms and sleep. Whilst previous approaches have relied upon analysis of video data, here we show that simple motion sensors provide a cheap and effective alternative, enabling real-time analysis and longitudinal studies extending over weeks or even months. The data files produced are small, enabling easy deposition and sharing. We have named this system COMPASS - Continuous Open Mouse Phenotyping of Activity and Sleep Status. This simple approach is of particular value in phenotyping screens as well as providing an ideal tool to assess activity and rest cycles for non-specialists.
Wellcome open res
Actigraphy, EEG, PIR, circadian, mouse, sleep