Why Do We Sleep? The Mystery of Sleep: Understanding the Value of Sleep and Why We Cannot Live Without It

Contents hide Roles of Sleep Healthy Sleep for Everyone Sleep Habits Sleep in a Nutshell Sleepiness and Hunger Answering the Questions Theories of Sleep What Sleep does Stages of Sleep Information about Sleep What goes … Read more

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Last Updated: Sun, November 25, 2018

People often consider sleep as the time when both the body and mind shut down. However, this is not actually the case. In reality, sleep consists of an active period during which plenty of strengthening, restoration, and essential processing happen.

Why the body is programmed for extensive periods of slumber and how the process happens is still a bit of a mystery. However, scientists are aware of some of the critical functions of sleep and why it is necessary for the optimal well-being and general health.

Roles of Sleep

Consolidating and solidifying memories is among the critical roles of sleep. While going about your day, the brain consumes an astonishing amount of information. Instead of being logged in and recorded directly, these experiences and facts need to be processed first and then stored. Many of these functions or steps take place as you sleep.

Pieces and bits of information are moved from more short-term and tentative memory to long-term, stronger memory overnight during a process that is known as consolidation. Research also shows that after sleeping, people tend to perform better during memory tasks and retain information. All bodies need substantial periods of sleep for the purpose of synthesizing hormones, repairing tissue, growing muscle, rejuvenation, and restoration.

Healthy Sleep for Everyone

Healthy sleep is important for everyone because we are all expected to learn skills to develop in life and retain information. However, this is probably part of why children who acquire motor, social and language skills at a rapid pace during their development require more sleep than adults do.

Adults typically require 7-9 hours of sleep each night while young children need 9-11 hours and teenagers thrive with 8-10 hours of sleep. During the vital periods of learning and growth, young people require a large dose of sleep for optimal alertness and development.

Sleep Habits

Unfortunately, an individual cannot be sleep deprived and make up for it by logging several hours of slumber, even though repaying so-called sleep debt can be a good idea in case you have accumulated sleep deprivation. Good sleep habits are healthy, consistent routines that enable everyone, regardless of their age, to fulfill their sleep needs each night and handle the challenges of daily life.

Sleep in a Nutshell

Sleepiness and Hunger

Although people may not think about the reasons for sleep often, many of us realize that sleeping enhances how we feel at some level. You feel happier, more energetic and more alert and have the ability to function better after a good night of sleep. But the fact is that slumber makes you feel better and going without it makes you feel worse is only the beginning of explaining and understanding the necessity of sleep.

Answering the Questions

Scientists continue to explore the issue of sleep’s importance from several different angles. For example, they have examined what occurs when animals and humans are deprived of sleep. Other studies have observed sleep patterns in various organisms to find out whether differences or similarities among species can reveal things about the functions of sleep. Despite many years of research and several discoveries about various aspects of sleep, it has been difficult to answer the question of why sleep is necessary.

Theories of Sleep

Lack of clarity or a clear answer to the question does not suggest that research has been pointless. In fact, much more is known about the role of sleep and scientists have been able to develop many promising theories that explain the reasons for sleep.

Considering all the evidence that has been gathered so far, a single theory may not be proven correct. Rather, sleep may be explained by a number of these explanations. The goal is to have an in-depth understanding of why we sleep and learn to appreciate the role of sleep more while enjoying the health benefits it provides.

What Sleep does

Human beings spend almost a third of their lives sleeping. Lack of sleeping can disrupt your mental health and even have fatal consequences. It is clear that getting enough shut-eye is vital for your body to function. However, what sleep does is still an unsolved mystery. For example, why we need to eat is obvious but why we need to sleep is unclear.

People are vulnerable while sleeping and the function of sleep must be worthwhile in order to take the risk of keeping the brain offline during this period. There are a number of theories regarding sleep and while none of them are completely solid, some of them attempt to explain what occurs each night with research about topics that range from cognition to cellular processes. Researchers say that sleep is clearly the key to the ability of the brain to reorganize, a characteristic that is known as plasticity.

Stages of Sleep

Proving that sleep is crucial is not hard. Published studies have found that an entire day of sleep deprivation can cause healthy individuals to have schizophrenia problems such as hallucinations. Since sleep is actually hard to study and isolate, delving into why we sleep can be difficult.

Information about Sleep

One of the conclusions that have emerged is that sleep seems to be primarily a phenomenon that is focused on the brain. While being deprived of sleep changes hormone levels within the body and has an impact on the immune system, its impact is most consistent in the brain.

The central nervous system is often affected by sleep. Other things may have been added to the main function of sleep by evolution but the main function of sleep is likely to be something that is associated with the brain.

What goes on during Sleep?

One of the theories that have been developed by scientists is that the brain’s energy is restored by sleep. If the concept of sleep restoring brain energy is accurate, the relationship between the use of brain energy and sleep is not straightforward. More research is necessary to understand this connection.

Another concept is that sleep may allow the brain to get rid of toxic products that are generated when we are awake. Brains consume a lot of energy and subsequently produce a lot of waste. Sleep can be a time when brains are cleaned out. This may be something that occurs during sleep but it may not necessarily be the most essential thing that sleep does.

Plasticity and Connectivity

The most convincing theory regarding sleep may be that plays a key role in the plasticity and connectivity of the brain.

Basic Human Need

Researching the Brain

Additional evidence shows that sleep enables you to consolidate memories. This is an important process that converts short-term memory into long=term memory.

Energy Demands and Expenditure

Another theory about why we sleep suggests that sleep is linked t energy demands. This is a theory that is based on natural selection. Since the availability of prey and animal performance peak at varying times of the day, sleep may have been chosen as a way to save energy.

However, this theory may be flawed because it does not adequately explain choosing REM sleep that increases energy expenditure in most species. Inevitably, all the primary theories have limitations in an attempt to solve the mystery of sleep but advancements in technology and ongoing interest in the issue can produce the definitive answer that has been elusive for a long time.

Insight into Sleep

Sleep is an essential and indeed normal part of life but when you think about it, it seems to be an odd thing to do. As each day ends, people become paralyzed and unconscious. Sleep made the ancestors susceptible to being attacked by wild animals.

This means that the potential risks of the process that is universal among various groups, including mammals, must provide some type of evolutionary benefit. Research within this area has slowly taken off. But there has been a recent surge of intriguing revelations that give researchers new insight into the reasons for sleep and answers to the question ‘why do we sleep’.

Effects of not getting enough sleep

Why is it harder to think when you are Sleep Deprived?

Half asleep is an expression that might accurately describe what goes on inside the brain when you feel tired. Research shows that components of the human brain may actually be asleep due to lack of sleep. Studies on dolphins and whales show that when they sleep, they continue using a portion of the brain to rise to the surface for air and swim.

Studies on human patients reveal that the same thing goes on in the brain. While their sleep deprivation increases, components of their brain become inactive even when they are still awake. Additionally, local areas of sleep move around the brain. Even when you go to bed and think that you are awake at one moment, there is an abrupt alteration of sleep; it may actually be a continuous process.

Purpose of Dreaming

Psychiatrists have attempted to answer the question regarding the role of dreams and their success may be regarded as limited. Devices have been created for the purpose of reading or understanding dreams and serve as a worthwhile step towards seeing more details of what occurs in dreams and enable researchers to learn more about the reasons for dreaming.

Impact of Modern Life on Sleep

Many studies show how electricity has led to people altering their days and ending up with less sleep. People go to bed and awaken a couple of hours later on average in comparison to past generations. Working adults, including shift workers, are well-known for getting less than six hours of sleep each night.

Reading electronic books prior to going to bed can make it harder to fall asleep, which leads to lower levels of the hormone that controls the internal clock of the body and makes you less alert the following day.

Over the years, there has been a notable decline in the quality and duration of sleep. Since many people are opting for electronic devices that they use for entertainment, communication and reading, especially adolescents and children who already experience a substantial amount of loss of sleep, research that can evaluate the long-term effects of these devices on safety and health are urgently required.

What prevents Sleeping?

Sleep and Health

Sleep is important and it is as essential to the body as breathing, drinking and eating along with being crucial for maintaining good physical and mental health. Sleeping enables you to recover from physical as well as mental exertion. There is a strong relationship between health and sleep as poor sleep may increase the risk of poor health that can exacerbate the problem of finding it hard to sleep.

Basic Techniques and Treatment

There are basic techniques that can help to improve your sleep. Speaking to your doctor about possible treatment solutions is important if these techniques do not work, especially since sleep problems may be an indication of other health issues. Persistent sleep problems may mean there is an underlying issue that needs to be discussed with a health professional. Treatment for sleep problems along with mental health issues can be useful for addressing both the signs and causes in order to speed up recovery.

There are a number of things that need to be considered when dealing with poor sleep or sleep deprivation.


It is well known that lack of quality sleep can affect sleep. Mental health issues such as anxiety and depression are often associated with sleep problems. It is essential to make sure that all health concerns are dealt with to ease physical symptoms and address the worries that may be keeping you awake.


Wherever you sleep is vital and the bed and bedroom should primarily be places that are associated with sleep. Eating in bed, playing with screens or phones or watching television can all have an effect on the overall quality of sleep. Light, noise levels and temperature all play a role in determining the kind of sleep you get. If you experience poor sleep, you can consider creating a sleep diary that shows whether there are patterns that can help you identify the problem.


It is easier to fall asleep when you let go of worries and are able to relax. Everyone has had a night that involves lying awake and worrying. During the time before going to bed, it is important to wind down, relax and minimize stimulation. It can be hard to do this these days but a warm bath and relaxation techniques are some of the things that can help.

If you find it hard to sleep, you can get up and prepare a warm drink of milk, for example, and make another attempt to get to sleep when you feel sleepier. Turning on the phone screen or TV may be tempting but this might stimulate you and falling asleep becomes harder.


What you drink and eat can influence your sleep.

Reasons to Get Sufficient Sleep

Many people are not getting as much sleep as they need and a large percentage of people experience sleep difficulties at least some nights each week. Insomnia on a short-term basis may not be something to worry about.

A major concern is chronic loss of sleep that can lead to health problems like weakening the immune system, high blood pressure and weight gain. Although more research is required to explore the relationship between health and chronic loss of sleep, it is safe to conclude that sleep is too essential to ignore.


A good night of sleep is very important for your health, just as crucial as exercising and eating healthy. Unfortunately, modern life and lifestyles have interfered with sleep patterns. People sleep less than they did and there has been a significant decline in the quality of sleep.

Good sleep is necessary for the following reasons:

Sleep Related

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