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 (183)
  • samf-g
    5/13/2014 - 08:44 p.m.

    I would sleep even if i wasn't tired cause I honestly kinda enjoy it. I mean I think we all do ,but then again that's not a fact so I don't know.

  • RaeV-5
    5/14/2014 - 12:19 a.m.

    Without sleep our immune system suffers. We get headaches and suffer from lack of concentration. We can hallucinate or even become psychotic. Every living thing needs sleep, but some animals sleep on one side of there brain at a time. One theory is that sleep keeps us from wasting energy, so we only use it for essential things like eating. A second theory is that while we're sleeping our bodies repair damage. A third theory is that our body organizes memories as we sleep. I think this is cool. I wish I could sleep on one side of my brain at a time.

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

    Because it does.

  • sb28bookworm
    5/14/2014 - 08:39 a.m.

    Sleeping is a very important part of our lives. We all need to sleep and i think its just because of how we were made. We cant stay up and awake forever, we have to rest.

  • jh09013smiles
    5/14/2014 - 08:40 a.m.

    I think the brain organzises our thoughts and informations that we learned for that day. That's why you should study before you go to bed so you'll have a better chance of remembering something.

  • Kearstanwalker
    5/14/2014 - 08:44 a.m.

    The reason we "sleep on it" helps us solve problems us because it gives our brain a chance to rest and organize our memories and all.

  • Ebloom25
    5/14/2014 - 08:47 a.m.

    Sleeping on it helps us think and all that because when we sleep, everything is still at work especially our brains. They are getting ready for the next day and we can still think then and we will be ready to think.

  • tuvachew-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:44 a.m.

    Because the brain organize the information you learn so when you wake up you'll remember what you learned that's why we need to study before you go to sleep

  • tuvachew-Mil
    5/14/2014 - 09:45 a.m.

    Because the brain organize the information you learn so when you wake up you'll remember what you learned that's why we need to study before you go to sleep

  • Dalton_spooner
    5/14/2014 - 09:53 a.m.

    I think that we all need sleep because if we don't get sleep we will be mad all day long and we will also not to be able to think as good as we can.

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