• Brandon Glover

Sleep: What is it good for?

Why do we sleep? Humans spend half of their life in a bed, asleep. In fact, scientists and researchers don’t even know why we must sleep.

According to Live Science, “’It's sort of embarrassing,’ said Dr. Michael Halassa, a neuroscientist at New York University. ‘It's obvious why we need to eat, for example, and reproduce … but it's not clear why we need to sleep at all.’”

This raises another question. If we don’t know why we sleep, then what does sleeping even do? You may have heard it helps your memory, which is true. Sleep does a number of things for us: “Sleep can improve memory, lower stress, spur creativity, and lower depression,” according to health.com. Sleeping can also help control your appetite.

What downsides are there to not sleeping? There are quite a few downsides to skipping bedtime. “Sleep deficiency can lead to physical and mental health problems, injuries, loss of productivity, and even a greater risk of death,” according to the National Institutes of Health. Sleep loss can also cause depression, hallucinations, increase in hunger, and even harm your cardiovascular system. Sleep is not just for your brain; it is for your whole body.

What is the longest recorded time a human has gone without sleep? The official holder is Randy Gardner, born in 1948, who went 11 days without sleep in 1964. This act, though, harmed his health greatly. He actually almost died when he broke the record and had to be whisked away to the hospital.

Looking back on the experience, Gardner said it was a "crazy" thing to do and that he "couldn't remember things." He said "it was almost like an early Alzheimer's thing brought on by lack of sleep," according to the National Public Radio.