Functional Implications of Sleep Development Jerome M. Siegel

Veterans Administration Greater Los Angeles Health Care System in Sepulveda, California, USA.
PLoS Biology (Impact Factor: 9.34). 06/2005; 3(5):e178. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0030178
Source: PubMed


Why do we sleep? The sleep patterns and mechanisms that occur throughout development may give us a clue.

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    ABSTRACT: Why we sleep remains one of the enduring unanswered questions in biology. At its core, sleep can be defined behaviorally as a homeostatically regulated state of reduced movement and sensory responsiveness. The cornerstone of sleep studies in terrestrial mammals, including humans, has been the measurement of coordinated changes in brain activity during sleep measured using the electroencephalogram (EEG). Yet among a diverse set of animals, these EEG sleep traits can vary widely and, in some cases, are absent, raising questions as to whether they define a universal, or even essential, feature of sleep. Over the past decade, behaviorally defined sleep-like states have been identified in a series of genetic model organisms, including fish, flies and worms. Genetic analyses in these systems are revealing a remarkable conservation in the underlying mechanisms controlling sleep behavior. Taken together, these studies suggest an ancient origin for sleep and raise the possibility that model organism genetics may reveal the molecular mechanisms that guide sleep and wake.
    Current Biology 09/2008; 18(15):R670-R679. DOI:10.1016/j.cub.2008.06.033 · 9.57 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Sleep is often viewed as a vulnerable state that is incompatible with behaviours that nourish and propagate species. This has led to the hypothesis that sleep has survived because it fulfills some universal, but as yet unknown, vital function. I propose that sleep is best understood as a variant of dormant states seen throughout the plant and animal kingdoms and that it is itself highly adaptive because it optimizes the timing and duration of behaviour. Current evidence indicates that ecological variables are the main determinants of sleep duration and intensity across species.
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