Caffeine, Sleep, and Brain Plasticity

Approximately 80% of the population worldwide consume caffeine on a daily basis and disturbed sleep is highly prevalent in the modern society. Both these factors strongly interfere with the homeostatic regulation of sleep pressure, indexed by EEG slow wave activity (SWA) at the cortical level, and by adenosine binding at molecular level.
While disturbed sleep leads to impaired cerebral macro- and micro-structures in the hippocampus and other cortical regions in both animals and humans, chronic caffeine intake can reduce hippocampal synaptic strength and neurogenesis in rodents. Concomitant impairments in cognitive functions were found in these studies. Hence, we examined the grey matter plasticity induced by abnormal sleep homeostasis (i.e. caffeine intake and/or sleep disturbance) through the adenosine signaling, as well as the concomitant cognitive alterations.

Currently, two projects involving interinstitutional and international collaborations are ongoing. In the EEG and MRI project coordinated with the Centre for Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, we are investigating the brain plasticity induced by chronic caffeine intake through its influence on SWA at sleep. Furthermore, in the PET-MR project coordinated with the Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Forschungszentrum Jülich, we will examine the adenosine modulation of brain plasticity induced by daily caffeine and chronic sleep restriction. The results will be progresively published from the end of 2019 onward.



Yu-Shiuan Lin MSc

PhD student



Yu-Shiuan Lin MSc

Centre for Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry (UPK) Basel
Wilhelm Klein Strasse 27
4012 Basel

e-mail: yu-shiuan.lin@clutterupk.ch


  • Prof. Christian Cajochen and Dr. Carolin Reichert, Centre for Chronobiology, Psychiatric Hospital of the University of Basel, Switzerland Link
  • Prof. Hans-Peter Landolt, Chronobiology and Sleep Research group, Institute of Pharmacology and Toxicology, University of Zürich, Switzerland Link
  • PD Dr. med. David Elmenhorst, Molecular Imaging group, Institute of Neuroscience and Medicine, Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany Link


LIN, Y.S., WEIBEL, J., LANDOLT, H.-P., SANTINI, F., MEYER, M., BORGWARDT, S., CAJOCHEN, C., REICHERT, C.  Caffeine-induced Plasticity of Grey Matter Volume in Healthy Brains: A placebo-controlled multimodal within-subject study. bioRxiv, 804047, doi:10.1101/804047 (2019).