Why We Sleep?

Why do we sleep? That is a good question! The simple answer is that we don't know. The function of sleep as a life upkeeping process evident. All creatures on Earth need sleep. Without it, they would perish.

Scientists have proposed a couple of theories for the biological base of sleep. According to the most popular ones:

1. Sleep fixes the brain

Because we use our brain extensively, there is always going to be a little wear and tear caused by it. During sleep, brain fix the nerve damage that has occurred during the day and gets rid of metabolic waste.

2. Sleep strengthens memory and boosts learning

When we sleep, our brain make new connections and stores the memories we made during the day to long-term memory. At the same time, "space" is freed for new memories, which is crucial also for learning new things.

3. Sleeping keeps your body functioning

Sleep has a significant role in recovery and keeping your body functioning correctly. During sleep, your body, for example, replenishes your hormone storages, fixes tissue damage, and grows new muscle mass.

Even though sleep is crucial for all these things, it is impossible to say which one or if all of these together is the reason why we sleep. The holistic function of sleep has become apparent only recently. So far, we haven't found a single biological process in our body, which wouldn't be improved by a good night's sleep. That is why sleep and sleeping behavior play a central role in our quality of life as well as overall health and wellbeing.

Additional Reading

Walker, M. (2017). Why we sleep: Unlocking the power of sleep and dreams. Simon and Schuster.