Topic of Theory: Why Do We Sleep?

Introduction to the Topic

I am sure we must have all wondered: what is the point of sleep and why do we even do it at all? We use our body for most of the day; but we can just rest instead, right? Actually, sleep is more complex than we realize in which we express the need to close our eyes and rest in a state of sleep. An explanation in a study at Harvard University states that there is a “lack of a clear answer to this challenging question”. Even Harvard University doesn’t know why we sleep because it is a simple question with a much more complex answer. Many scientists are left stumped on this topic, especially since humans are much more energetic compared to some mammal counterparts. People like us create theories to help us get closer and create new ideas to tell the truth about sleep. Here are some theories about the reasoning to sleep.

The Inactivity/Conservation Theory

When you sleep, most of your body is still awake and is still functioning and doing normal tasks, but your body is not walking or doing anything you usually do when you’re awake. This theory states that when you are asleep, you conserve energy. Have you always wondered why you are sometimes energetic when you wake up? Well, this may the reason because our body conserves the energy from daily nutrients by slowing our metabolism down by 10% (but more in animals since they sleep longer than humans). Because of the inactivity in some parts of our body, we could conserve energy as we are asleep compared to when we are awake. We also decrease our body temperature and demand in calories as we sleep. This also trails into this next theory called the Restorative Theory.

The Restorative Theory

Another reason that has been around for a long time is the Restorative Theory. This theory states that the body restores itself while in a paralyzed state of sleep. How we use our nutrients from the day and absorb them shows a link between conserving nutrients from our day to then use them to restore things in our body such as muscles, tissues, proteins, and hormones. When we sleep, neurons in the brain create a chemical called adenosine. Adenosine is a chemical our brain makes to induce the sleep state. When we sleep, our body works hard to decrease the amount of adenosine to help restore the body to make us feel more alert when awake. This also links into this other theory called the Brain Plasticity Theory.

Brain Plasticity Theory

The Brain Plasticity Theory is the theory that our brain changes and organizes itself. This may also explain why babies sleep more often than older people. This topic of reasoning behind this is the study of brain plasticity, which is not that well understood. When babies sleep, more than half of their state of sleep is in the REM stage; the REM stage is also known as the dream stage. So if you don’t have enough sleep, your body will not be able to organize its thought in which causing a decrease in doing the normal daily activities of a human.

The Takeaway

In conclusion, these theories probably won’t be tested or proven to be true anytime soon. However, the theories listed above could possibly be the answer to the question that we have dreamed about.


“Why Do We Sleep, Anyway?” Why Do We Sleep, Anyway? N.p., n.d. Web. 08 Apr. 2016.



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Mia Niccol

My name is Mia Niccol and I love to write. Whenever I do have free time, you will often find me writing.

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