Sleep Centers of Middle Tennessee

Why Do We Sleep?

Posted on 14 Apr 2011 - 4:14 PM

The two main reasons for sleeping are:

  1. Restoration – rejuvenates, refreshes; allows brain to perform certain tasks (e.g., memory), allows certain physiological processes to take place (e.g., replenishment of biochemicals)
  2. Functioning – amount and quality of sleep directly impacts how functional a person is during the day

Sleep is a necessary biological function, and deprivation can have many negative effects, such as: irritability, decreased short-term memory, decreased attention/concentration, mood swings, decrease in immune system function, and ultimately…death. It is estimated that approximately 50% of Americans are sleep deprived. This often results in accidents, and has resulted in the development of legislation against sleepy driving in some states.

How much sleep does one need? It is generally agreed that the average adult needs 6-8 hours. Some have argued that certain people need only a few hours of sleep per night, while other people may need as many as ten hours of sleep per night. If one is sleep deprived, a cumulative effect has been noted to occur over time, known as a “sleep debt.” This sleep debt must eventually be “repaid” in full, at which time a person feels rested.