What is sleep, and why do we do it?

What is sleep, and why do we do it?

Sure sleep is a kind of controlled coma, I guess. And yes we need it to allow our bodies to rest and recharge. But rest and recharge what exactly? And why do we have to be unconscious to do it?

There also seems to be a requirement for sleep in our physcological (sp?) needs. Lack of sleep leads to diminshed reasoning and judgement and if carried on to extremes can bring on physcosis. But other than some sort of reduced state, what is it?

Some animals, the giraffe for one, can get by on as little as 5 minutes a day. Granted, most giraffes, as far as we know, spend their lives mostly thinking about eating, making little giraffes, and not being lion food. But, if they need so little, why do they need any?

I recently saw an article about an experiment in the 60’s where a man was kept awake for eleven days. Don’t remember how this affected him. But I have also read someplace, probably late at night when I couldn’t sleep, that extreme cases of sleeplessness can cause death.

Any thought out there?

I belive the current theory’s have to do with recharging like you said, but also organizing things in your brain (kinda like defragging a hard drive I guess), and I would imagine other internal bodily functions. I saw a documentry on sleep once and I believe the end conclusion was that we still aren’t quite sure exactly why we NEED sleep (I guess they’re looking for an answer more complex then becuase we’re tired).

A while ago, I read an article (which of course I can’t find now) which said that we need to sleep in order to better learn things – that is, we exercise the same brain paths in a dream as we would performing the same action during the day.

I can’t find the original article, but a few googles later, I came up with the following:

This article talks about how people showed a measurable improvement in a newly learned skill after sleeping; and this article shows that even birds in the trees do it.

And here’s a list of more books on the subject; I reckon if nothiing else, this list will put you to sleep: :wink: