Mathematical Models of Sleep and Circadian Rhythms: A Case for Using the 2-Process Model in Neuroscience Nursing

Sara Mithani, Anne M. Fink

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Acute and chronic neurological disorders impair sleep. Despite the availability of theoretical/mathematical frameworks about sleep, the nursing profession rarely incorporates these models. The purpose of this article was to analyze the 2-process model of sleep regulation using Fawcett and DeSanto-Madeya's method, a systematic approach for determining whether a theory is relevant to nursing. The 2-process model has 3 concepts: process S (sleep-dependent process), process C (circadian-timing-dependent process), and total sleep propensity (summation of processes S and C). Nonnursing theories do not explicitly incorporate nursing metaparadigm concepts-person, health, environment, and nursing-but the 2-process model is congruent with nursing's philosophy. The model guided studies quantifying sleep and circadian patterns in other fields, and nurses could use this framework to measure the impact of nursing interventions. Strengths of the 2-process model include parsimony (conciseness without oversimplification) and the ability to empirically test propositions related to processes S and C. The 2-process model is relevant to neuroscience nursing-by measuring sleep/circadian-related variables (electroencephalogram, core body temperature, salivary melatonin). Nurses have opportunities to design, test, and use interventions that improve sleep in patients with neurological conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)48-53
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • 2-process model of sleep regulation
  • neuroscience
  • nursing interventions
  • sleep
  • theory

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrine and Autonomic Systems
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Medical–Surgical
  • Surgery


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