Why do we sleep? Without sleep, we can hallucinate or even become psychotic (Smithsonian.com)
Why do we sleep?
Lexile

That's a good question. But we don't have a good answer.

We know that sleep is important. Without it, we get tired and irritable. We get headaches and suffer from lack of concentration. Our immune system suffers. After a number of days without sleep, we can hallucinate or even become psychotic.

But we're not the only ones who need sleep. As far as we know, all animals sleep or have sleep-like behaviors. Theres a wide range. Elephants sleep about three hours; platypuses, about fourteen hours. Marine mammals have even evolved the ability to sleep with only one side of their brain at a time. This way they can still go to the surface to breathe.

So sleep is really important. But why is it essential? There are several theories.

Number one, the efficiency theory. Sleeping keeps us from wasting energy, so we're only active when we need to eat, that sort of thing.

Number two, the tune up theory. When we're asleep, our bodies repair damage, eliminate toxins, produce hormones and all kinds of other maintenance activities.

Number three: the brain theory. While asleep, our bodies may be at rest, but our brains are busy processing new information and organizing memories.

So which one is right? Maybe all of them. Or none of them. Scientists are making a lot of progress in sleep studies. But for the moment, they'll have to sleep on it.

Critical thinking challenge: Why is it that sleeping on it helps us solve problems and make decisions?

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COMMENTS (77)
  • NicoK-5
    5/13/2014 - 10:41 p.m.

    Why do we sleep? It's a good question without a good answer. Studies show that all animals sleep. There are three theories to why people need sleep. One is efficiency. Two is tuning up. Three is brain rest.
    I think it's a cool article. It's a bit odd that scientists don't know why we sleep.

  • jesseM-1
    5/14/2014 - 12:01 a.m.

    This is an article about the question; Why do we sleep?. There are many theories about why we sleep such as the brain theory, the efficiency theory, and the tune up theory, all can be right or wrong, but we might never know for sure.

    This was a cool article to read because i thought it was interesting to know why we need sleep and what happens if we don't get enough sleep, it is always important to get sleep.

  • WS05YANKEES
    5/14/2014 - 08:37 a.m.

    I am not sure we will ever really know, unless we create new technology. Either way sleep is important, lots of bad things can happen if you don't sleep.

  • JM17milk
    5/14/2014 - 08:41 a.m.

    i think when we sleep we go into a different state of mind! then we get all woozy thats our brain rebooting after hard processing.

  • sarahs-Koc
    5/14/2014 - 11:18 a.m.

    I don't know why we need to sleep but I know it is necessary. Sometimes when I don't sleep enough hours I get headaches. I think we need to sleep so our brain can rest and get rid of things we don't need.

  • TyriseJasper-Lar
    5/14/2014 - 11:57 a.m.

    i think that when we sleep... we get rested up really well... get healed while our organs reheal our body parts while were at rest. so then we fdont have to move around as mich when were awake. so then it gives the body time to rest, relaxe, and heal... i dunno

  • qj9polo
    5/14/2014 - 12:59 p.m.

    i would like to sleep because that is what i like to do when ever i go home because i never have anything to do at home.

  • n.m.11blue
    5/14/2014 - 01:03 p.m.

    I love sleep. Without sleep I would be the meanest nastiest person in this school. I don't know what i'd do without sleep it's the perfect relax time.

  • mw9bucketboy
    5/14/2014 - 01:11 p.m.

    that is a good question i wonder the same-thing. Also can you go a day without sleeping has someone ever done it. loll i will try it to see if i could do it.

  • Sierraf-3
    5/14/2014 - 04:36 p.m.

    This article is about theories of why we sleep. If you don't get enough sleep, you can become psychotic and can have hallucinations. Some times if you dont get enogh sleep you can get headaches and cannot concentrate as much. People do not know why we sleep. many people have came up with theories. Some theories are it keeps us from wasting energy. Some say we sleep because it repairs damage in the body. I thought this article was interesting because i did not know that scientists did not know why we sleep. I think people sleep because they need to restore energy.

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