Most published sleep studies use three species: human, house mouse, or Norway rat. The degree to which data from these species captures variability in mammalian sleep remains unclear. To gain insight into mammalian sleep diversity, we examined sleep architecture in the spiny basal murid rodent Acomys cahirinus. First, we used a piezoelectric system validated for Mus musculus to monitor sleep in both species. We also included wild M. musculus to control for alterations generated by laboratory-reared conditions for M. musculus. Using this comparative framework, we found that A. cahirinus, lab M. musculus, and wild M. musculus were primarily nocturnal, but exhibited distinct behavioral patterns. Although the activity of A. cahirinus increased sharply at dark onset, it decreased sharply just two hours later under group and individual housing conditions. To further characterize sleep patterns and sleep-related variables, we set up EEG/EMG and video recordings and found that A. cahirinus sleep significantly more than M. musculus, exhibit nearly three times more REM, and sleep almost exclusively with their eyes open. The observed differences in A. cahirinus sleep architecture raise questions about the evolutionary drivers of sleep behavior.

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Published in Scientific Reports, v. 10, issue 1, article no. 10944.

© The Author(s) 2020

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Funding was provided by NSF | NSF Office of the Director | Office of International Science and Engineering (Office of International Science & Engineering), Grant No. IOS -1353713, United States Department of Defense | NIH Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR), Grant No. R43NS083218.

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