Uh huh, yeah. Good morning to you too. But could you tell me why waking up feels as though you’re exiting the womb? It’s so mystifying — sleep. It’s a bitter sweet, almost alien-like experience waking up from it — the earlier the more eerie. I have a friend who just recently started a job where she has to be at work by 5:30. I usually find myself awake by 8:00 a.m., which can sometimes be a triumph and scary to encounter.
For an average ‘Merican, we spend one-third of our lives asleep. That’s over 26 years, and still sleep remains one of the biggest mysteries of neuroscience..
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with me. I feel normal and healthy. But often times more than not I find that sleep is something I need A LOT of — strangely preparing myself for my little death — laying in my cozy coffin called a bed. It’s more than just a thing that we do, it’s my way of re-charging, honing the ability to see shit straight, capacity to think on a higher level without the call of too much unnecessary emotions, fuck ups.
Though scientists haven’t found conclusive evidence for why our brains need so much sleep, there are some interesting theories from big think:
Information processing theory — Several studies have suggested that REM sleep and/or non-REM sleep might be important for the brain’s ability to process and consolidate memories from the previous day, forming new neural networks and strengthening others. Related studies have also suggested that sleep helps clear away unimportant information, making room for new neural connections.
Damage reversal theory — During waking hours, neurons in the brain are subjected to the wear-and-tear of oxidative stress caused by free radicals; one theory holds that the cool-down period of sleep help to regulate homeostasis in the body and brain and to repair any damage that has occurred during waking.
Adaptive inactivity theory — Last year UCLA neuroscientist Jerome Siegel proposed that sleep might not be physiologically necessary to animals at all. He hypothesized that rather than serving some universally vital, but unknown, function in animals, sleep actually emerged because of its evolutionary benefits: sleep optimizes the timing and duration of behavior, conserving energy and protecting them from certain dangers. Across the animal kingdom there is wide variability in sleep duration, and Siegel suggests that ecological variables more so than biological needs dictate the timing and duration of sleep for different species.