Essays on Science and SocietyNeurobiology

Overriding sleep

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Science  27 Oct 2017:
Vol. 358, Issue 6362, pp. 457
DOI: 10.1126/science.aap9535

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Summary

The need for sleep is recognized across the animal kingdom: Short-term sleep deprivation affects proper functioning, and extended sleep deprivation is fatal. However, animals can override the physiological drive to sleep when necessary or advantageous. Some can choose to sleep for shorter periods to avoid predators. Others, like the great frigate-bird, can sleep minimally and with half the brain during migratory flight. Still others, like the male pectoral sandpiper, can skip sleep altogether for weeks to maximize mating.