Why Do We Sleep?

I have always been someone who needs a solid amount of sleep to be able to function. Yet, some people I know can go through their day running on just 3 hours of sleep. Why is this? Do we need sleep? Do some people need sleep more than others? The idea to write my blog post on this topic came to me because I stayed up until about 2 am last week to get some of my homework done and the next day I was exhausted. On the other hand my roommate stays up until 3 am or later every night and functions completely normally the next day. I’ve always been told by my mom that you should get 8 hours of sleep each night but maybe thats not the case.

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Why Do We Sleep? 

I started off my research by looking up why it is exactly that we sleep. Despite all of the research done on this topic, scientists have a hard time answering this question. There is not just one theory as to why we sleep. According to this article there are a few. The first one mentioned is called the adaptive or evolutionary theory. This theory says we sleep because animals that were asleep during the night time are safer. Since these animals were quiet and asleep during the night/ when it was dark this behavior carried on through natural selection. Another theory mentioned in the same article is the Energy Conservation Theory. This theory says we sleep to conserve the energy that we have. There is also a theory called the Restoration Theory that basically says we sleep to give our bodies the chance to refuel. This theory is supported by many because many bodily functions like tissue repair, muscle growth and more happen during sleep. A recent theory that is vastly supported is called the Brain Plasticity Theory. Scientists don’t completely understand the concept of brain plasticity yet but essentially this theory says sleep is connected with the organization and construction of the brain. Right now in the science world there is not just one proven theory as to why we sleep but I think in the future scientists will keep making new discoveries in this field.

How Much Sleep Do We Need? 

When researching the question of how much sleep we need I came across that people of different ages all need different amounts of sleep. According to National Sleep Foundation new borns need between 14-17 hours of sleep each day as opposed to teenagers(age  14-17) who need 8-10 hours of sleep. New borns might be getting the reccomended amount of sleep but I know for a fact when I was 17 I was not getting 8-10 hours of sleep. The National Sleep Foundation also says that younger adults( ages 18-25) should be getting 7-9 hours of sleep and again I and everyone else I know does not get that amount of sleep. I seem to be surviving on about 6 hours of sleep each night. Am I suffering because I don’t get the recommended amount of sleep? There are negative effects of not getting enough sleep, this article  says you will lack alertness, you can struggle remembering things, you are more likely to get into car accidents and you can become less likely to participate in activities like exercise. If you are seriously sleep deprived it can start to affect your appearance and you can start to look older than you actually are. From what I have researched I would definitely say that sleep is extremely important for our health and mental health. Sleep is not something we can live without.

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Sources:

http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep/why-do-we-sleep

https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times

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1 thought on “Why Do We Sleep?

  1. Michael Robert Szawaluk

    I really like this article because I love to sleep, and obviously we are in college so we might not be able to get a sufficient amount of sleep each night. I read through the article that outlines the different theories for why we and a thought popped into mind; is there a specific time that we need to sleep? Or could there be a correlation between the times we sleep and the knowledge that if it is night time we automatically feel the urge to go to sleep. What I am really trying to say is, could humans be nocturnal? I suppose we could if we trained our bodies sleep cycle for a long enough period of time. I did some research to find out what time is potentially the most beneficial for people to go to bed and i found that your REM cycle plays a vital role in how easily you sleep and at which times is ideal for hitting the hay. If you are anything like me and have not gone to bed between the recommended 8pm-12am window check this out to find out why you should start: http://time.com/3183183/best-time-to-sleep/

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