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Lesions of the globus pallidus externa (GPe) produce a profound sleep loss (˜45%) in rats, suggesting that GPe neurons promote sleep. As GPe neuronal activity is enhanced by dopamine (DA) from the substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc), we hypothesized that SNc DA via the GPe promotes sleep. To test this hypothesis, we selectively destroyed the DA afferents to the caudoputamen (CPu) using 6-hydroxydopamine and examined changes in sleep-wake profiles in rats. Rats with 80–90% loss of SNc neurons displayed a significant 33.7% increase in wakefulness (or sleep reduction). This increase significantly correlated with the extent of SNc DA neuron loss. Furthermore, these animals exhibited sleep-wake fragmentation and reduced diurnal variability of sleep. We then optogenetic-stimulated SNc DA terminals in the CPu and found that 20-Hz stimulation from 9 to 10 PM increased total sleep by 69% with high electroencephalograph (EEG) delta power. We finally directly optogenetic-stimulated GPe neurons and found that 20-Hz stimulation of the GPe from 9 to 10 PM increased total sleep by 66% and significantly increased EEG delta power. These findings elucidate a novel circuit for DA control of sleep and the mechanisms of abnormal sleep in BG disorders such as Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease.