“Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds.” ~ JoJo Jensen
(The following excerpt from The Mystery Of Sleep by Sarah Klein appeared on huffingtonpost.com on 10/27/13. To view it in its entirety click on the link below.)
We spend so much time asleep, there must be an important reason for it — or so the thinking goes. Sleep lies somewhere between bodily function and behavior — we need it, we can’t function without it, and yet we have some control over the circumstances in which it happens.
The curiosity surrounding sleep has inspired years of neurological study, led by researchers hoping to find the elusive “as-yet unidentified physiological or neural function that can’t be accomplished when animals are awake,” as UCLA sleep researcher Jerome Siegel called it in LiveScience in 2009.
More recently, University of Rochester Medical Center researchers discovered that a particular waste-flushing system in the brain is nearly 10 times more active when we’re asleep than while we’re awake, suggesting our brains need to “take out the trash” overnight.
This cleansing process may actually help explain sleep’s revitalizing powers, according to the researchers. “The restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness,” Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., the co-director of the university’s Center for Translational Neuromedicine, said in a statement.
More than ever, society is accepting sleep as the pillar of all-around well-being science shows it to be. We may not totally understand it — yet — but there are some promising theories as to why we really to need sleep. Here are a few of the most predominant.
We may sleep to…
Minimize risk and maximize efficiency
Outsmart would-be predators
Repair and restore