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Sleep duration and lifespan vary greatly across Animalia. Human studies have demonstrated that ageing reduces the ability to obtain deep restorative sleep, and this may play a causative role in the development of age-related neurodegenerative disorders. Animal models are widely used in sleep and ageing studies. Importantly, in contrast to human studies, evidence from laboratory rodents suggests that sleep duration is increased with ageing, while evidence for reduced sleep intensity and consolidation is inconsistent. Here we discuss two possible explanations for these species differences. First, methodological differences between studies in humans and laboratory rodents may prevent straightforward comparison. Second, the role of ecological factors, which have a profound influence on both ageing and sleep, must be taken into account. We propose that the dynamics of sleep across the lifespan reflect both age-dependent changes in the neurobiological substrates of sleep as well as the capacity to adapt to the environment.

Original publication




Journal article


Curr Opin Physiol

Publication Date





210 - 216