Skip to main content

Thank you for visiting You are using a browser version with limited support for CSS. To obtain the best experience, we recommend you use a more up to date browser (or turn off compatibility mode in Internet Explorer). In the meantime, to ensure continued support, we are displaying the site without styles and JavaScript.


Sleep on it

Is the function of sleep to replenish energy resources or to modify neural connections in the brain? Recordings of the brain's ‘reverberating circuits’ evident during sleep shed light on the question.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution

Access options

Rent or buy this article

Get just this article for as long as you need it


Prices may be subject to local taxes which are calculated during checkout

Figure 1: Why sleep? Huber et al.2



  1. Aristotle On the Soul Vol. VIII, Parva Naturalia.

  2. Huber, R., Ghilardi, M. F., Massimini, M. & Tononi, G. Nature 430, 78–81 (2004).

    Article  ADS  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  3. Carskadon, M. A. & Dement, W. Percept. Motor Skills 48, 495–506 (1979).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  4. Borbély, A. A. Hum. Neurobiol. 1, 195–204 (1982).

    PubMed  Google Scholar 

  5. Greene, R. W. & Siegel, J. M. Neuromol. Med. 5, 59–68 (2004).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  6. Smith, C. Behav. Brain Res. 78, 49–56 (1996).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  7. Benington, J. & Frank, M. G. Prog. Neurobiol. 69, 71–101 (2003).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  8. Cohen, Y. E. & Andersen, R. A. Nature Rev. Neurosci. 3, 553–562 (2002).

    Article  CAS  Google Scholar 

  9. Vyazovskiy, V., Borbély, A. & Tobler, I. J. Sleep Res. 9, 367–371 (2000).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  10. Kattler, H., Dijk, D. J. & Borbély, A. A. J. Sleep Res. 3, 159–164 (1994).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  11. Walker, M. P. et al. Learn. Mem. 10, 275–284 (2003).

    Article  PubMed  PubMed Central  Google Scholar 

  12. Sejnowski, T. J. & Destexhe, A. Brain Res. 886, 208–223 (2000).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  13. Steriade, M. & Timofeev, I. Neuron 37, 563–576 (2003).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  14. Lee, A. K. & Wilson, M. A. Neuron 36, 1183–1194 (2002).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

  15. Kavanau, J. L. Brain Res. Bull. 42, 245–264 (1997).

    Article  CAS  PubMed  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Cite this article

Hairston, I., Knight, R. Sleep on it. Nature 430, 27–28 (2004).

Download citation

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI:

This article is cited by


Quick links

Nature Briefing

Sign up for the Nature Briefing newsletter — what matters in science, free to your inbox daily.

Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing