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Animal Sleep and Human Sleep—What’s The Connection?

  sleep science
Tuesday, January 2, 2018


Have you ever wondered if there is a connection to the way animals and humans sleep? Well, you’d be surprised to find out there is a strong correlation between the two.The way animals sleep is essential to understanding how humans sleep. In fact, Jerome Siegel, professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA Center for Sleep Research, explains that the only way we are able to understand human sleep is by studying animals.

The common thread between animal and human sleep boils down to the existence of rapid eye movement, or REM sleep, which is the sleep state associated with dreams. Both humans and animals display the same increased heart rate and level of brain activity during REM sleep. You may have seen dogs bark or twitch their paws during their sleep, which is comparable to the way humans talk or move around in their sleep.

This led scientists to conclude that all mammals have the same fundamental sleep cycle. During both animal and human sleep, scientists recorded the same kind of twitching, eye movement, and paralysis. There is a lot still unknown about the way sleep works, but what we do know is that brain wave pattern during REM sleep is the same between animals and humans.

The study of animal sleep has actually helped scientists identify and treat sleep disorders. Dogs have especially helped advance the treatment of narcolepsy. Scientists found that dogs displayed similar symptoms as humans, such as sudden collapsing and muscle weakness.

It turns out, man’s best friend is not only a great play mate, but also a great aide in helping scientists study human sleep!