Sleep Medicine pp 407-411 | Cite as

Chronobiology and Sleep

  • Juergen Zulley
  • Scott S. Campbell


In earlier times, chronobiology and sleep research developed independently. The convergence of these two research areas led to new insight into basic mechanisms of both sleeping and waking. The roots of chronobiology as a science started with observation of rhythmic phenomena in living organism including humans. The key experiments have been isolation studies in humans which concluded that endogenous rhythm generators—internal clocks—govern the rhythm of all biological functions and that these oscillators can be synchronized to external alteration like day and night mainly by daylight. Sleep research focussed mainly on single nights, discovering the internal sleep regulation by polysomnography. The merger of those two research domains uncovered important relationships between both. The timing and structure of sleep are under the control of circadian oscillators. New concepts of sleep–wake regulation allowed a more precise understanding of “why we sleep” and the resulting understanding of the active mechanism of external influences led to useful applications not only for normal daily life but also for special situations like shift work as well as pathological states like sleep disorders.


Sleep Chronobiology Biological rhythms Circadian Ultradian Circadian rhythm disorder Light 


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.RegensburgGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of RegensburgRegensburgGermany
  3. 3.ChappaquaUSA

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