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 (180)
  • AlenA13
    5/13/2014 - 02:39 p.m.

    Sleeping is important we do need it but the reason why we sleep is because we need it we will become very frustrated, get mad at people, and give people an attitude so thats why people shouldn't stay up playing video games or watch television.

  • KatherineC19
    5/13/2014 - 02:41 p.m.

    Do humans need sleep? From my view definitely yes! The average amount of sleep a teen/tween should get is 8-10 hours. If you don't reach around that amount of sleep, your daily routine could change drastically! I AM FOR SLEEP!

  • Hannah0715
    5/13/2014 - 02:52 p.m.

    I'd love not having to sleep. Then we'd have 24 hours to do so much fun. Does anyone agree with me? Although then we would be very grouchy.

  • Zach1818
    5/13/2014 - 03:25 p.m.

    Wow, this is a really good article! I never knew these many things just about sleep! I like how this gave many different opinions on the subject.

  • Zach1818
    5/13/2014 - 03:27 p.m.

    Wow, this is a really good article! I never knew these many things just about sleep! I like how this gave many different opinions on the subject.

  • traw-KK
    5/13/2014 - 03:55 p.m.

    bc if we didn't sleep we wouldn't be able to make the right choices and we will have head aches and body problems so we do need our sleep

  • RyanSOrangeQ4
    5/13/2014 - 04:40 p.m.

    I think sleep is very essential because most people get irritated and they aren't very fun to be around. Also you grow when you sleep that's what my parents told me

  • KameronBlueQ4
    5/13/2014 - 04:52 p.m.

    I think it is crazy that sleeping helps you solve problems easier but if you notice, it's easier to do math in the morning than working at night.

  • Brandon1231-YYCA
    5/13/2014 - 06:40 p.m.

    I think that people are just getting dumber and dumber everyday because, they are asking questions that people already know. Why do we sleep, Do finger nails grow when you are dead. I think that these people are just getting dumber and dumber. I also think that people can ask these questions but, they can be dumb too. I think that this topic is cool and awesome but, this question is weird. I hope that these people are getting smarter when they ask these questions. I also think that people can think and use their brains when thy ask these questions.

    • Steve0620-yyca
      7/23/2015 - 06:48 p.m.

      REBUTTAL:

      People are not getting dumber just because they ask these questions. Maybe they are just curious. They don't know if their fingernails grow when they die and maybe they just want to know. It's not like they can bury up a coffin and look at the person to see if their fingernail grow. What do you mean by "I also think that people can ask these questions but they can be dumb too? and I also think that people can think and use their brains when they ask these questions?"

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