The activity-regulated cytoskeleton associated protein Arc is strongly and quickly upregulated by neuronal activity, synaptic potentiation and learning. Arc entry in the synapse is followed by the endocytosis of glutamatergic AMPA receptors (AMPARs), and its nuclear accumulation has been shown in vitro to result in a small decline in the transcription of the GluA1 subunit of AMPARs. Since these effects result in a decline in synaptic strength, we asked whether a change in Arc dynamics may temporally correlate with sleep-dependent GluA1 down-regulation. We measured the ratio of nuclear to cytoplasmic Arc expression (Arc Nuc/Cyto) in the cerebral cortex of EGFP-Arc transgenic mice that were awake most of the night and then perfused immediately before lights on (W mice), or were awake most of the night and then allowed to sleep (S mice) or sleep deprived (SD mice) for the first 2 h of the light phase. In primary motor cortex (M1), neurons with high levels of nuclear Arc (High Arc cells) were present in all mice, but in these cells Arc Nuc/Cyto was higher in S mice than in W mice and, importantly, ~15% higher in S mice than in SD mice collected at the same time of day, ruling out circadian effects. Greater Arc Nuc/Cyto with sleep was observed in the superficial layers of M1, but not in the deep layers. In High Arc cells, Arc Nuc/Cyto was also ~15%-30% higher in S mice than in W and SD mice in the superficial layers of primary somatosensory cortex (S1) and cingulate cortex area 1 (Cg1). In High Arc Cells of Cg1, Arc Nuc/Cyto and cytoplasmic levels of GluA1 immunoreactivities in the soma were also negatively correlated, independent of behavioral state. Thus, Arc moves to the nucleus during both sleep and wake, but its nuclear to cytoplasmic ratio increases with sleep in the superficial layers of several cortical areas. It remains to be determined whether the relative increase in nuclear Arc contributes significantly to the overall decline in the strength of excitatory synapses that occurs during sleep. Similarly, it remains to be determined whether the entry of Arc into specific synapses is gated by sleep.