All through the animal kingdom, sleep ranks right up there with food, water and sexual intercourse for the survival of the species. Everybody does it, from fruit flies to Homo sapiens. Yet despite its clear necessity and lots of investigation, scientists still don't know precisely what sleep is for.
Is it to refresh the body? Not really. Researchers have yet to find any vital biological function that sleep restores. As far as anyone can tell, muscles don't need sleep, just intermittent periods of relaxation. The rest of the body chugs along seemingly unaware of whether the brain is asleep or awake.
Is it to refresh the mind? That's closer to the mark. The brain benefits from a good night's sleep. But there is no agreement among sleep researchers about what form that benefit takes. One theory is that sleep allows the brain to review and consolidate all the streams of information it gathered while awake. Another suggests that we sleep in order to allow the brain to stock up on fuel and flush out wastes. A third, which has been gaining currency, is that sleep operates in some mysterious way to help you master various skills, such as how to play the piano and ride a bike.
An essay on the evolution of the human brain beginning with the first fishes (450 million years ago), evolving to reptiles (300 million years ago), the first mammals (200 million years ago) and ending with homo sapiens (120 thousand years ago).
From the website: 'The growth of the cerebral cortex culminated in the appearance of Homo Sapiens 120 thousand years ago. The primitive region in the brain, that held the circuits for the instinctive behavior of the reptile and the old mammal, was now completely enveloped by and buried within the human cerebral cortex. Yet this ancient command post is still active within us; it vies with the cerebral cortex for control of the body, pitting the inherited programs of the old brain against the flexible responses of the new one.'
Read More: Evolution of the Brain: Sex and Survival
Page Title: 'Evolutionary Health: Sleep. Disorders, Apnea, Aids.
Sleeping with Family (Baby, Children, Dog), Pill, Sex Education, Statistics'.
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Analyse any human emotion, no matter how far it may be removed from the sphere of sex, and you are sure to discover somewhere the primal impulse, to which life owes its perpetuation. ... The primitive stages can always be re-established; the primitive mind is, in the fullest meaning of the word, imperishable. ... Mans most disagreeable habits and idiosyncrasies, his deceit, his cowardice, his lack of reverence, are engendered by his incomplete adjustment to a complicated civilisation. It is the result of the conflict between our instincts and our culture. (Sigmund Freud)
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Karene (September, 2012)
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