Before embarking on the considerations of selective pressures that drive sleep patterns, it is important to briefly clarify the concept of sleep. Sleep is induced by the connection of the sleep-active neurons that are located on the opposite sides of the brain. When this additional inhibitory connection is modeled,Â uni-hemispheric sleepÂ is generated. â€œNeuro-modulation of these connections is what makes a possible transition betweenÂ bi-hemisphericÂ andÂ uni-hemispheric sleepÂ respectivelyâ€ (Rattenborg et al. 2009: 262).
This means that the physiological mechanisms, which are responsible for mammalian sleep, are similar apart from the modifications that have resulted due to evolution. These modifications are responsible for the varying sleep patterns in mammals (Staunton 2005). Most of the experiments undertaken have uncovered the neurological structures that are associated with mammalian sleep patterns. The explanation behind this is that theÂ circadianÂ andÂ homeostaticÂ mechanism is responsible for the sleeping behavior of animals since it alters the sleep-wake switch of mammals thus determining their sleep patterns although it is not well established whether the system is ubiquitous to all species of mammals (Lima et al. 2005).
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