Why Sleep?


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I came to Penn State almost a month ago, and I quickly found out that college students don't get enough sleep, or no sleep at all. Sleeping has become an option, not a necessity, for us college kids. I, as a 4-week college student, too don't get enough sleep. It became normal not to go to bed until at least 2 in the morning! (and yes, I used to go to bed before midnight before)

I thought I was going to be so tired all the time to do anything because I don't get enough sleep. However, I experienced something interesting instead. I'm not that tired!

Then I began to think, why do we need sleep at all then? Our parents and our older people say that we need sleep. But sleeping is for restoring energy, if we have that energy without sleep, then why sleep?

Well, This article, Why do we sleep, Anyway?, suggests several theories as to why we need sleep.

 First theory is "Inactivity Theory"; this theory suggests that "animals that were able to stay still and quiet during these periods of vulnerability had an advantage over other animals that remained active".

 Second theory is "Energy Conversation Theory"; it suggests that "the primary function of sleep is 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."

Third Theory is "Restorative Theory"; and it says that sleep in some way serves to "restore" what is lost in the body while we are awake. Sleep provides an opportunity for the body to repair and rejuvenate itself."

Last theory is "Brain Plasticity Theory" which illustrates that sleep is correlated to changes in the structure and organization of the brain. This phenomenon, known as brain plasticity, is not entirely understood, but its connection to sleep has several critical implications."

Then what happens if we don't sleep? This article, Sleep, Learning, Memory, indicates that "when we are sleep deprived, our focus, attention, and vigilance drift, making it more difficult to receive information. Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information" and it might affect our interpretation, no sleeping makes us not capable of making fair judgments on life because "we can no longer accurately assess the situation, plan accordingly, and choose the correct behavior."

Here is a video on Why Do We Sleep.

So guys, whether you party or study, make sure you get sleep daily!

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