Ontogeny of Sleep and Its Functions in Infancy, Childhood, and Adolescence

  • Madeleine Marie Grigg-Damberger


We have long understood sleep as an active, not passive, process that serves many functions, some of which vary in importance across the human lifespan. Ontogeny is the study of how a living organism develops from conception to birth and across its lifespan. This chapter reviews the ontogeny of sleep and its functions from infancy through adolescence. Sleep in humans serves many functions including: (1) fostering optimal brain growth and development; (2) enhancing learning, attention, memory, synaptic efficiency, and plasticity; (3) regulation of emotion, appetite, feeding, body weight, risk-taking, and pleasure-seeking behaviors; (4) strengthening immune function; and (5) providing optimal time for clearing the brain of cellular debris and neurotoxins. The chapter provides summaries of growing evidence for each of these. Sleep/wake states are scored in polysomnography using electroencephalography (EEG), electromyography (EMG), and electrooculography (EOG), and the ontogeny of these is also reviewed here.


NREM disorder of arousal (DoA) Parasomnias Polysomnography Polysomnogram (PSG) REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD) REM sleep without atonia (RSWA) Sleepwalking 


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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyUniversity of New Mexico School of MedicineAlbuquerqueUSA

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