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Published by Ibrahem Abdel Ghany

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Published by: Ibrahem Abdel Ghany on Jan 04, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Sleep is a naturally recurring state characterized by reduced or lacking consciousness, relatively suspended sensory activity, and inactivity of nearly all voluntary muscles. It is distinguished from quiet wakefulness by a decreased ability to react to stimuli, but it is more easily reversible than hibernation or coma. Sleep is a heightened anabolic state, accentuating the growth and rejuvenation of the immune, nervous, skeletal and muscular systems. It is observed in all mammals, all birds, and many reptiles, amphibians, and fish. The purposes and mechanisms of sleep are only partially clear and are the subject of intense research. Sleep is often thought to help conserve energy, but actually decreases metabolism only about 5–10%. Hibernating animals need to sleep despite the hypometabolism seen in hibernation, and in fact they must return from hypothermia to euthermy in order to sleep, making sleeping "energetically expensive." Anthropology of sleep Research suggests that sleep patterns vary significantly across cultures. The most striking differences are between societies that have plentiful sources of artificial light and ones that do not. The primary difference appears to be that pre-light cultures have more broken-up sleep patterns. For example, people might go to sleep far sooner after the sun sets, but then wake up several times throughout the night, punctuating their sleep with periods of wakefulness, perhaps lasting several hours. The boundaries between sleeping and waking are blurred in these societies. Some observers believe that nighttime sleep in these societies is most often split into two main periods, the first characterized primarily by deep sleep and the second by REM sleep. Some societies display a fragmented sleep pattern in which people sleep at all times of the day and night for shorter periods. In many nomadic or hunter-gatherer societies, people will sleep on and off throughout the day or night depending on what is happening. Plentiful artificial light has been available in the industrialized West since at least the mid-19th century, and sleep patterns have changed significantly everywhere that lighting has been introduced. In general, people sleep in a more concentrated burst through the night, going to sleep much later, although this is not always true. In some societies, people generally sleep with at least one other person (sometimes many) or with animals. In other cultures, people rarely sleep with anyone but a most intimate relation, such as a spouse. In almost all

societies, sleeping partners are strongly regulated by social standards. For example, people might only sleep with their immediate family, extended family, spouses, their children, children of a certain age, children of specific gender, peers of a certain gender, friends, peers of equal social rank or with no one at all. Sleep may be an actively social time, depending on the sleep groupings, with no constraints on noise or activity. People sleep in a variety of locations. Some sleep directly on the ground; others on a skin or blanket; others sleep on platforms or beds. Some sleep with blankets, some with pillows, some with simple headrests, and some with no head support. These choices are shaped by a variety of factors, such as climate, protection from predators, housing type, technology, and the incidence of pests.

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