Why do we sleep?

Greg Broadhead gregb at sciborg.uwaterloo.ca
Fri Feb 18 11:00:00 EST 1994


In article <2k0j9u$3i9 at darkstar.UCSC.EDU>,
Eric Mintz <mintz at orchid.UCSC.EDU> wrote:
>In article <9402171428.AA50438 at polywog.biology.uofs.edu> greuelb1 at jaguar.uofs.edu (Brian T. Greuel) writes:
>>I would like to ask a related question that I have often wondered about:
>>
>>Why do we sleep?  Is there something that builds up in our bodies that gives 
>>us a feeling of fatigue and that during sleep gets metabolized somehow so 
>>that we feel refreshed upon waking?
>>
>
>The idea that something builds up in the body or brain which causes sleepiness
>and then gets metabolized during sleep is known as the restorative theory
>of sleep.  The theory has several problems with it.  The main problem
>is that after years and years of looking, no one has been able to find
>anything that would serve this function, and that is not for a lack of 
>trying.  In addition, there is at least one animal, the pigeon, which 
>can be sleep deprived indefinitely without showing any ill effects,  and
>when the sleep-depriving stimulus (continuous light) is removed, they
>show no sleep "rebound."
>
>An alternative theory is that sleep evolved as a mechanism for energy 
>conservation.  Sleep involves a reduction in metabolic rate that can
>yield significant energy savings.  This does not preclude the possibility
>that a restorative function evolved afterward in some species.
>
>Eric Mintz
>mintz at orchid.ucsc.edu
>

Yeah, I imagine that it would have something to do with upsetting the
natural biorhythms that every one of us has.  By upsetting them we develop
stress which is probably why we feel so crappy if we don't get enough
sleep.. This also plays in with the fact that there are some people out
there that after years of sleeping for only a few hours a night can get
away with only 3 hours sleep a night and be perfectly healthy.  It's just
a matter of resetting your clock to be able to adjust to this.

I wonder, when a person comes out of a long coma, do they feel really
awake or have insomnia? Or would they sleep a lot?  Hrmm..

-Greg





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