Encyclopedia of Neuroscience

2009 Edition
| Editors: Marc D. Binder, Nobutaka Hirokawa, Uwe Windhorst

Sleep-Wake Cycle

  • Derk-Jan Dijk
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-540-29678-2_5454


Sleep-wake rhythms; Wake-sleep cycle


The rhythmic alternation between two behavioral states: sleep and wakefulness. The rhythmic regulation of the alternation between these two states usually refers to rhythms with a circadian period.


Sleep and the Sleep-Wake Cycle

The defining behavioral characteristics of sleep that are used to identify sleep in many animals are: (i) a species-specific posture; (ii) reduced responsiveness to external stimuli; (iii) rebound after deprivation see [1].

The assessment of a species-specific posture requires around-the-clock behavioral observations. In most species, sleep will be accompanied by behavioral quiescence. In some species, such as dolphins, sleep verified by electrophysiological recordings has been observed while the animal is behaving.

Variation in responsiveness across putative sleep and wake states can be assessed by quantification of arousal thresholds for standardized tactile, auditory, or other stimuli....

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Berlin Heidelberg 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Derk-Jan Dijk
    • 1
  1. 1.Surrey Sleep Research CentreUniversity of SurreyGuildfordUK