Why Do We Need Sleep?

So why do we need sleep?

Even though the average person will spend about 1/3 of their lives sleeping, scientists are no closer to finding the answer to the question “why do we need sleep”.

This said there are plenty of theories on the subject.

Some believe the answer to "why do we need sleep" lies in our bodily need for recuperation and healing.
It is seen that sleep may restore specific nutrients and proteins that we need for proper body functioning.
Therefore sleep is a time of rejuvenation of our immune, muscular, skeletal and nervous systems.

Other theorists attempt to answer the question “why do we need sleep” with a more adaptive approach.
Sleep to these theorists is more significant in protecting us. As we don’t need 24 hours to do everything we need to do, the time that we are asleep actually protects us and reduces the amount of time we are out and about at risk.

However this theory is not universally accepted.

If this was the case, why does the brain de-activate and become less aware of the external environment if protection is the focus?
Wouldn’t it seem more likely that organisms would simply seclude themselves, but stay fully awake to avoid dangers?

Other theorists attempt to answer the question “why do we need sleep” with a more cognitive approach and it is here that we find the most validity.

It is generally accepted that sleep is necessary for normal mental functioning. There is some aspect of the brain that requires us to sleep, however it appears that other body organs do not benefit from sleep at all.

You know yourself when you have been awake all night, slaving away at the office or out partying till dawn, that without sleep you suffer!
You are unable to maintain normal cognitive ability, your speech is affected, your reaction time is poorer, and your concentration is blatantly worse.

In addition memory suffers from lack of sleep. Researchers are in no doubt that memory is heavily dependent on sleep for proper functioning.

It is also theorised that REM sleep aids in the strengthening of new memories.

Whatever the answer to the question "why do we need sleep" it seems we can't live without it.

So as they say... if you can't beat em join em!

Happy Sleeping!

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