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What Is Sleep?

13-08-2011

Often answering questions that on the face appear obvious can be the most difficult, like what is sleep. At first, the answer to this seems fairly simple. It is what happens when you are tired and you close your eyes and drift off. But that doesn’t really get to the heart of what sleep actually is, it just explains what happens to you.

There are several different levels required to attempt to explain what sleep is. At the basic physiological descriptive, sleep is marked by significant changes in your brain pattern. These are the different cycles we go through when we sleep. Our brain pattern changes as we go to sleep and it changes while we sleep. This is the most basic definition of what sleep is, but it doesn’t explain the main function of sleep.

This is more problematic. Most people innately assume that we sleep because we are tired, that it performs a recuperative function. While this may appear obvious, many scientists doubt this is the reason we sleep. In fact, sleep does not provide any obvious physical benefits, our ‘batteries’ do not recharge. There are two major theories on why we do sleep. The first is that it provides time for our brain to process our memories, to sort out the day’s events. The second is that sleep developed as a way of keeping us safe while it was dark and dangerous.

In the end, it may remain a mystery.

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