Deutsch: Schlafen / Español: Dormir / Português: Dormir / Français: Dormir / Italiano: Dormire

Sleeping in psychology refers to the natural, recurring state of rest that is essential for physical and mental health. It involves several phases, including REM (rapid eye movement) and non-REM sleep, each playing critical roles in brain function and overall health. Sleeping is also a state in which a baby alternates from being still and breathing regularly to moving gently and breathing irregularly; the eyes are closed throughout.


In the field of psychology, sleeping is studied to understand how it affects learning, memory, emotional regulation, and overall mental health. Sleep is crucial for the consolidation of memories; during sleep, the brain processes and consolidates information from the day into long-term memory. It is also during sleep that the brain clears out waste products that could potentially interfere with brain function.

Moreover, sleep affects mood and emotional stability. Lack of sleep can increase irritability and stress while reducing impulse control. Chronic sleep deprivation is strongly linked to mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety.

Application Areas

Sleep is a significant area of research in various subfields of psychology, including:

  • Clinical psychology: Practitioners assess and treat sleep disorders like insomnia, sleep apnea, and narcolepsy, which can significantly impact mental health.
  • Developmental psychology: Researchers study how sleep patterns change throughout the life span, from infancy through old age, and how these changes affect cognitive and emotional development.
  • Neuropsychology: This field examines how sleep affects brain function and structure.

Well-Known Examples

Key studies and developments in the psychology of sleep include:

  • Research by William Dement, one of the pioneers in sleep medicine, who explored the stages of sleep and their implications for health and psychological well-being.
  • Studies on the effects of sleep deprivation on cognitive function, which highlight how critical sleep is for cognitive processes such as problem-solving and decision-making.

Treatment and Risks

Poor sleep quality or insufficient sleep can lead to a wide range of psychological and physical problems. Treatments for sleep issues may include cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBT-I), which has been proven effective in treating insomnia without medication. Additionally, practicing good sleep hygiene—such as maintaining a regular sleep schedule, creating a bedtime routine, and making the bedroom conducive to sleep—is often recommended.

Similar Terms

In psychology, terms closely related to sleeping include:

  • Circadian rhythms: The natural, internal processes that regulate the sleep-wake cycle and repeat roughly every 24 hours.
  • Dreaming: An experience that typically occurs during REM sleep involving narratives or images, which some theories suggest play a role in emotional processing.



In psychology, sleeping is recognized as a critical component of health and well-being. Adequate sleep contributes to various mental processes, including memory, emotional regulation, and cognitive functioning. Understanding and addressing sleep issues is vital for promoting optimal psychological health.


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