In my recent article in Experimentation magazine, I made the rather bold claim that all animals sleep in some way or another. This is certainly true for all mammals and probably all vertebrates, but do insects experience sleep, and how similar is their experience to ours?
In order to determine whether insects can be said to sleep, we first have to define exactly what we mean by sleep. Traditionally, sleep is defined as a “rapidly reversible state of immobility and greatly reduced sensory responsiveness” (Seigel, 2008). It is distinct from simply resting, where we are still conscious. It is also distinct from more permanent states of rest such as hibernation. Sleep in humans, and in mammals in general, is defined by specific patterns of electrical activity in the brain, but can the same patterns be found in insects?