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Why Do We Sleep?

Before modern science, there have been many myths and theories as to why people sleep.
With current technology and machinery, such as the electroencephalograph, there is a better
overall understanding about what occurs in the brain during the complex state of consciousness
known as sleep. Psychologists use such machines to study and research brain activities during
sleep. The simple answer to the question is that, “People need a certain amount of uninterrupted
sleep to function normally” (Bernstein 148). Sleep benefits the brain and body in such a way that
allow us to function at efficient levels every day.
Nearly everything in life works in cycles. According to Bernstein, patterns known as
circadian rhythms are “cycles of behavior and physiology that repeat about every 24 hours”
(149). Sleep, as a circadian rhythm, means that it naturally occurs every day based off of the
Earth’s daily cycles. The human body plays a large role when it comes to regulating sleep, in
addition to eating and drinking, on a daily basis. The “biological clock” is often referred to as the
system that the body uses to recognize that something important is needed in order for the body
to function normally without the need of an outside signal.
Not allowing the body to sleep can have negative and harmful effects on the body and
brain. This condition is known as sleep deprivation, which can result in, “reduced cognitive
abilities, inattention, and increased risk of accidents” (Bernstein 150).The benefits of sleep are
clear when compared to the results of not sleeping. Rapid-Eye Movement sleep plays a large part
in battling the effects that sleep deprivation can cause on the body. Research has shown that a
recovery night after total sleep deprivation consist of a large amount of REM sleep.
There are many theories that help us understand the role that sleep plays in our everyday
lives. One explains that inactivity at night time is an adaptive trait that maintains the survivability
of organisms. Another describes that sleep allows us to conserve our energy to “reduce an
individual’s energy demand and expenditure during part of the day or night, especially at times
when it is least efficient to search for food” (Harvard). Restorative theories provide the
explanation that sleeping allows the body to restore itself in many different ways including
muscle growth and brain functionality.
All kinds of organisms have different amounts of sleep each day as well as the time that it
occurs. The amount of time an organism sleeps may depend on its brain activity as well as its
everyday activities. A human baby may sleep up to 14 hours a day because, according to Harvard
Medical School, “sleep plays a critical role in brain development in infants and young children”
(Harvard). The amount of sleep an organism has is dependent on the different ways it can affect
the body and brain.

Essentials of Psychology. MA: Houghton Mifflin. Harvard Medical School. . Anyway?". 12 May 2012. (2008).Bibliography Bernstein. "Why Do We Sleep. and Peggy Wright. Douglas. Nash. Boston. Healthy Sleep. Web.