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Why Do We Sleep?

July 18, 2014 2 min read

Why do we sleep? Scientists don't know for certain why we have to sleep, but they do know all of the negatives of sleep deprivation, and the benefits of a good night's sleep. Too many people get less than seven or eight hours a night of rest, relegating sleep to an inconvenience and a waste of valuable time. So why do we sleep? We sleep because we have to.

Negatives of sleep deprivation:

  • Sleep loss makes you unproductive and dull witted.
  • When you’re tired you become depressed and cranky.
  • Sleep deprivation makes you dangerously clumsy.
  • Researchers link lack of sleep and obesity.
  • Not sleeping causes tired wrinkles.
  • Your immune system can shut down, like sleep deprived rats in a National Institute of Health study. Or you can die, like a Chinese World Cup Soccer fan who tried to watch the sport without sleeping for eleven days.

Positives of a good night’s sleep:

  • You can think clearly.
Current research is showing that when we sleep, all of the junk in our brain gets cleaned out.  Cerebral spinal fluid pumps through our brains, cleaning all of the waste that naturally builds up during the day from all of the thinking we do.  Sleep is our brain’s time to take out the trash. If this doesn’t happen, it gets crowded in there. We start to lose focus, can’t remember things and even hallucinate.
  • You feel energized.
Studies prove that certain areas of our brain and genes associated with regeneration don’t even turn on until we sleep.  When we sleep all the energy we used up during the day gets replenished.  Too many people mask sleep deprivation with caffeine or nicotine, when it’s our brain’s way of asking for some time off.
  • You are more creative.
While you sleep your brain retain memories and continues to learn by making connections and coming up with new ideas. Creative types, like writer Stephen King, tend to sleep with a notepad next to the bed, often waking up with amazing ideas or inventions. We’re a nation of cranky sleep deprived individuals in total denial about what lack of sleep is doing to our bodies and our lives.  Many people who only sleep five to six hours a night attribute their negative feelings and habits to external forces, but sometimes the solution is as simple as a nap. Why do we sleep? We sleep because we should. Check out this very entertaining TED talk from Dr. Russell Foster!