Sleep Ecophysiology: Integrating Neuroscience and Ecology

Trends Ecol Evol. 2016 Aug;31(8):590-599. doi: 10.1016/j.tree.2016.05.004. Epub 2016 Jun 1.


Here, we propose an original approach to explain one of the great unresolved questions in animal biology: what is the function of sleep? Existing ecological and neurological approaches to this question have become roadblocks to an answer. Ecologists typically treat sleep as a simple behavior, instead of a heterogeneous neurophysiological state, while neuroscientists generally fail to appreciate the critical insights offered by the consideration of ecology and evolutionary history. Redressing these shortfalls requires cross-disciplinary integration. By bringing together aspects of behavioral ecology, evolution, and conservation with neurophysiology, we can achieve a more comprehensive understanding of sleep, including its implications for adaptive waking behavior and fitness.

Keywords: animal behavior; electroencephalogram; predation risk; rapid eye movement sleep; sleep function; slow wave sleep.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Ecology*
  • Humans
  • Sleep*
  • Wakefulness*