The origins and evolution of sleep. Academic Article uri icon


  • Sleep is nearly ubiquitous throughout the animal kingdom, yet little is known about how ecological factors or perturbations to the environment shape the duration and timing of sleep. In diverse animal taxa, poor sleep negatively impacts development, cognitive abilities and longevity. In addition to mammals, sleep has been characterized in genetic model organisms, ranging from the nematode worm to zebrafish, and, more recently, in emergent models with simplified nervous systems such as Aplysia and jellyfish. In addition, evolutionary models ranging from fruit flies to cavefish have leveraged natural genetic variation to investigate the relationship between ecology and sleep. Here, we describe the contributions of classical and emergent genetic model systems to investigate mechanisms underlying sleep regulation. These studies highlight fundamental interactions between sleep and sensory processing, as well as a remarkable plasticity of sleep in response to environmental changes. Understanding how sleep varies throughout the animal kingdom will provide critical insight into fundamental functions and conserved genetic mechanisms underlying sleep regulation. Furthermore, identification of naturally occurring genetic variation regulating sleep may provide novel drug targets and approaches to treat sleep-related diseases.

published proceedings

  • J Exp Biol

altmetric score

  • 86.49

author list (cited authors)

  • Keene, A. C., & Duboue, E. R.

citation count

  • 91

complete list of authors

  • Keene, Alex C||Duboue, Erik R

publication date

  • June 2018