To test the theory that sleep is a regional, use-dependent process, rats were subjected to unilateral sensory stimulation during waking. This was achieved by cutting the whiskers on one side, in order to reduce the sensory input to the contralateral cortex. The animals were kept awake for 6 h in an enriched environment to activate the cortex contralateral to the intact side. Whiskers are known to be represented in the barrel field of the contralateral somatosensory cortex and their stimulation during exploratory behavior results in a specific activation of the projection area. In the 6 h recovery period following sleep deprivation, spectral power of the nonrapid eye-movement (NREM) sleep EEG in the 0.75-6.0 Hz range exhibited an interhemispheric shift towards the cortex that was contralateral to the intact whiskers. The results support the theory that sleep has a regional, use-dependent facet.