The Mystery Of Sleep

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We spend so much time asleep, there must be an important reason for it — or so the thinking goes. Sleep lies somewhere between bodily function and behavior — we need it, we can’t function without it, and yet we have some control over the circumstances in which it happens.

The curiosity surrounding sleep has inspired years of neurological study, led by researchers hoping to find the elusive “as-yet unidentified physiological or neural function that can’t be accomplished when animals are awake,” as UCLA sleep researcher Jerome Siegel called it in LiveScience in 2009.

More recently, University of Rochester Medical Center researchers discovered that a particular waste-flushing system in the brain is nearly 10 times more active when we’re asleep than while we’re awake, suggesting our brains need to “take out the trash” overnight.

This cleansing process may actually help explain sleep’s revitalizing powers, according to the researchers. “The restorative nature of sleep appears to be the result of the active clearance of the by-products of neural activity that accumulate during wakefulness,” Maiken Nedergaard, M.D., D.M.Sc., the co-director of the university’s Center for Translational Neuromedicine, said in a statement.

More than ever, society is accepting sleep as the pillar of all-around well-being science shows it to be. We may not totally understand it — yet — but there are some promising theories as to why we really to need sleep. Here are a few of the most predominant.

We may sleep to…

Minimize risk and maximize efficiency
“All species have times when they need to be active and ones where they don’t, and so you can see species optimizing their periods of inactivity in response to their environment,” Siegel told LiveScience. He surveyed the sleep times of a number of animals and found a particularly telling example: the big brown bat. This bat sleeps for 20 hours a day, only waking for a few hours at dusk, when the moths and mosquitos it feeds on are most active. “If it spent more time awake, it would spend more energy but not be as successful at hunting, and if it came out in the day it would be exposed to predatory birds that can see much better than it can,” Siegel said.

Outsmart would-be predators
Even if animals aren’t out and about when their predators are, they could still fall victim to nighttime grazers. One of the earliest theories about why we sleep is called inactivity, adaptive or evolutionary theory, according to the division of sleep medicine at Harvard Medical School. This idea posits that sleep keeps animals quiet and still during the night, thereby helping them avoiding being gobbled up. Critics of this theory argue that it hardly seems safe to be unconscious in the face of an emergency, however.

Conserve energy
When food is scarce, animals — and people — have to conserve energy. Because calorie expenditure drops while asleep, some suppose sleep is a conservation tactic, according to Harvard Medical School.

Synaptic homeostasis theory is similar, albeit slightly more complex. In this line of thinking, sleep slows down the brain to conserve energy, according to Scientific American. While asleep, the synapses weaken to “restore brain circuitry to baseline level of strength.”

Repair and restore
The repair and restoration theory of sleep posits that we need to rest at night to allow our body time to recuperate from the damages of the day. There’s substantive supporting evidence, according to Harvard Medical School, in the facts that “many of the major restorative functions in the body like muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release occur mostly, or in some cases only, during sleep.”

In line with this theory is recent research that found sleep essentially doubles production of special repair cells in the brain that would help should your gray matter be injured. The more the mice subjects of the study slept, the more these repair cells multiplied, The Guardian reported.

Generally, deep sleep is considered to be the most rejuvenating, Scientific American reported. But critics contend that if the repair and restoration theory was the only reason we need to sleep, the most active people would need the most slumber, the Guardian points out, which isn’t the case.

Learn
There’s still much to be done in understanding the nuanced ways in which the brain changes during sleep, but research is slowly but surely making clear the importance of shut-eye when it comes to childhood development, memory and learning — or what’s known as brain plasticity.

A slew of studies have tested this theory by asking participants to complete a memorization task, like learning a musical melody or a list of vocabulary words, and then take a nap or stay awake. The snooze generally improved performance, especially where dreaming was involved, Harvard Health blog editor Harvey B. Simon, M.D., wrote in 2012. The general decline of memory — and quality of sleep — as we age, may also be a testament to this theory, NPR reported.

Or maybe it’s all of the above!
“Assuming that there is only a single purpose for sleep… ignores the fact that sleep patterns vary wildly across different species, and even between members of the same species,” writes the Guardian. The real point of your daily slumber may be any combination of any of the reasons above — and more. For now, we know we need it, so we’ll keep snoozing until the researchers catch up.

By: Sarah Klein
Source: www.huffingtonpost.com

2013-10-28T10:55:11+00:00

Related Questions

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    Q: I gave my daughter 1 capsule of BRAIN TUNER every morning for about two weeks now. She now has a mild to average seizure every day instead of twice or three times a week. And since taken this Brain Tuner two weeks ago she has had two bad attacked. Normally she will get a bad attack every 2 - 3 weeks once. Most of her attack come during her sleep or during an afternoon nap, i.e. she will wake up from this sleep/nap and stay still for 30 sec - 1 minutes and the attack will come and her entire palms and feet will turn cold and heart starting to beat very fast. And once in a while if she does not get enough sleep she will get a hard attack out of the blue during the day otherwise most of the seizure attack during her sleep. Does this Brain Tuner stimulate her brain and causes the attack? What other remedy should I take to cut down this seizure?

    A:

    Sounds like the body (brain) is being greatly regulated, but if the BRAIN TUNER is speeding up the attack of seizures, abstain from using it and just give OXY-DROPS in glass or cup or water (20 drops per cup/glass). Normally a thing increases before it decreases but if this causes concern then abstain and try something else.

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    Q: I was informed my two year old son has sleep apnea, and requires surgery. During his sleep, he stops breathing for several seconds. This worries me! What herbs can he take so he can have a normal sleep?

    A:

    Herbs can only assist! They are not the solution! I would recommend that he doesn't sleep on a pillow. He needs a bed that allows his body to slant, so his head will be lower than his feet. This way, oxygen can rush to his brain. My sleep article is being finished and may be up near the end of April. Please stay tuned to Dherbs.com! Make sure you get a guarantee that surgery will solve the problem. Surgery is always a big risk.

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    Q: I have so much going on in my life right now that is beyond my control- I can't sleep through the night. Is there any natural remedy to help me sleep? I don't like taking sleeping pill.

    A:

    Take 6 capsules of NERVES FORMULA before bed each night!

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    Q: Hello, I have a son that is now 5 years old and the doctors thought he had PDD autism. Through prayer and searching I don't think this is the case. He has trouble focusing, slow development, irritability, tosses and turns during sleep, stops breathing at times during sleep, slow speech development, poor memory, and very poor stool movement (often small little pebbles) God showed me Celiac before but I never had the money to really convert his diet totally, is there something that you have that might help with this for his age?

    A:

    Please schedule a consultation, Beloved. A response here won't do justice to the little boy's situation.

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    Q: I have obstructive sleep apnea and I sleep with a CPAP machine. I'm doing the full body detox. On the third night while taking the ACTIVATED CHARCOAL, I woke up in the middle of the night from a dream that my head was full of air and was about to explode. I took the CPAP mask off and I haven't taking the activated charcoal since. I believe my throat collapsed, however the first night using it I slept well. I am now on my fifth day with the FULL BODY DETOX. Do you have any suggestions. Will the lack of the charcoal water formula #7 ruin my detox.

    A:

    The ACTIVATED CHARCOALis not causing the problem. You associated it with the problem. But you don't have to take the charcoal.

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    Q: I need to know what you recommend for cronic lung disease, sleep apnea, bipolar, and osteoarthritis I have been to all doctors and nothing helps plus I drink 5 Cans of beer to fall asleep.

    A:

    For lung disease, I highly recommend our Lungs and Respiratory formula. For sleep apnea I recommend Nerves Formula. For Bi-Polar, I recommend Brain Tuner and CNS formula and Chakra Elixir #6 and #7. For osteoarthritis, I recommend Joints Formula and Acid Buster.

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    Q: I am a 54 year old female, in menopause. Recently, I am unable to sleep through the night without waking several times. Is there something that can help me?

    A:

    Yes, there is help! Dherbs NERVES FORMULA, NERVES TEA and DREAM-AID INSPIRANT. Use all 3 shortly before bed time. Drink tea 1 hour before bedtime and take 3 capsules shortly before getting in bed and inhale the Inspirant before closing your eyes.

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    Q: I'm looking for a natural product to help me get a good night's sleep and not be feeling sluggish in the morning

    A:

    Try our NERVES FORMULA (3 capsules) and a cup of NERVES TEA1 hour before bedtime.

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    Q: WHAT TYPE OF HERBAL MEDICINE DO YOU RECOMMEND FOR ADHD FOR KIDS BECAUSE THAT RITALIN IS NOTHING BUT POISON AND IT'S HURTING MY CHILD. I ALSO WANT TO KNOW WHAT KIND OF HERBAL MEDICINE TO USE AS A SLEEP AIDE BEACAUSE HE ALSO HAS TROUBLE FALLING TO SLEEP AT NIGHT, THE DOCTORS HAVE HIM ON CLONIDINE, I WANT HIM OFF ALL THAT MAN MADE POISON THE DOCTORS ARE PRESCRIBINING HIM SO THE PHARMACUTICAL COMPANIES CAN GET RICH. I ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH YOU ABOUT THAT TRILLION DOLLAR MONEY MAKER THE GOVERNMENT.

    A:

    First, we recommend that your child performs the Children's Cleanse to remove the negative repercussions that pharmarceutical drugs cause.

    In addition, order our Nerves tea and give this to the child every night before bedtime and before going to school.

    Also, we recommend our Sixth Chakra. Read our ADD article on our site under ARTICLES.

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    Q: Hey Gary here are my challenge I'm 43 been trying to lose weight, I start on a program and stop once I don't see any results. I tried the Detox I think I lost about 5 pounds, I work at night and have a part time jobs seeing private patients in the day so my sleep pattern is little maybe I get 4 hrs of sleep I'm having problems getting this weight off. I also want to mention when I do exercise my joints swell so I try to keep it low impact. I also have sweet tooth so I get these cravings here and there more so when I'm at work at night. Hopefully you can help me. Thanks....Lakeisha

    A:

    Hi, thanks for the question.

    Lets go through one thing at a time. Your overall schedule and lifestyle is not healthy and will likely sabotage your health goals. Receiving so little sleep will prevent major weight loss because your body cannot cleanse and cannot recharge. You must repay your energy debt before you can properly lose weight. Your body is always in a state of playing catch-up to the workload you are giving it. It stores fat because it doesn't have the
    energy to properly function. I understand crazy schedules but they will not get you the results you desire. I would focus on trying to find a more balanced or healthier schedule before adding the stress of losing weight to an already overworked body.

    Your body has been come toxic and inflamed from a toxic lifestyle. A high carb-high raw vegan diet will help ease your suffering the most. A high carb (fruit based) diet will help replenish your energy stores and reduce
    nutritional stress. To learn more about how a healthy vegan diet can help you reach your goals please consider the following eBooks found at Dherbs.com.

    "Go Vegan the Healthy way" or
    "Lose weight the healthy way"

    As far as your mindset is concerned an all or nothing approach rarely breeds success. Especially when it come to regaining health or losing weight. It takes time and patience. I would recommend checking out the DVD
    "fat sick and nearly dead". It's a fascinating look at how you can quickly go from a health zero to a health hero in the shortest time. Every single person on the planet has a sweet tooth. Those who say they don't usually are hopped up on caffiene or other drugs and pharmaceuticals. Every cell in the body runs on glucose. The brain eats up a small apple and a half worth of glucose every hour. Eating a high carb-lower fat diet will give you an energy abundance, reduce overall stress, and help you lose weight.

    Hope this helps,

    Gary Gibson HHC CPT BMI VLCE

    www.theveganeffect.com

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    Q: My daughter is currently taking Gingko Biloba + Gotu Kola (1 capsule), Magical Alchemical Elixir (2 drops twice daily), Cardio-Vascular Formula (3 capsules), Brain Tuner (3 capsules) and children detox from Dherbs. However, she still experience palpitation + mild seizure (raising of hands) every morning upon waking up. She experience mild fits once a day usually in her sleep/nap and get a severe seizure once every 10-12 days also during her sleep/nap. She was also diagnosed as Asperger Syndrome when she was seven and has improved considerably but not able to focus and easily get irritated. She likes to flipflop her hands a lot and always in wonderland during class. Not able to understand and totally lost in class though she has a very good memory. I also bring her to temple every week to pray and seek spiritual guidance and apply Reiki to her everyday. At present I just do not know what else to do to control her seizure and morning palpitation. Will Epson salt bath help in her epilepsy and anise powder water help in her palpitation. Your guidance and help is much appreciated.

    A:

    Something is going on while she's sleeping (visiting another realm). It sounds like it could be something from a past-life. Consider placing crystals near her bed and under pillow. Crystals such as amethyst, selenite, angelite, quartz, turquoise, black tourmaline, pink or purple lepidolite, lapis lazuli, sodalite, etc.

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    Q: Is it safe to take herbal sleep remedies (valerian night for example), every night? Or should they only be taken occasionally?

    A:

    Herbal remedies are completely safe for daily use.

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    Q: I have a client that had her thyroid removed, the doctors have her on 3 grains of the natural...well natural for a pig. Thyroid. She couldn't sleep so they put her on ativan. Which is making her crazy (between you and I) She is still not sleeping and feeling agitated and this drug is causing her anxiety. I feel it has built up in her system and she has to dose down off of it. Do you have anything that would help her sleep? I have already suggested your thyroid blend. However, I didn't know if it could really help her as they removed her thyroid. So perhaps she does need the grains, as her body can no longer produce it on her own. I would really like to get her on natural as possible stuff so we can see what is physical and what we can work on energetically. Right now she feels like an energetic mess. Any suggestions?

    A:

    I RECOMMEND FOR HER (TO INDUCE SLEEP) OUR NERVES FORMULA (6 CAPSULES BEFORE BEDTIME) AND CALMING INSPIRANT. AND BY ALL MEANS SHE NEEDS A NATURAL THYROID FORMULA (I.E. THYRIOD FORMULA AND IODINE PHOSPHATE. IF SHE FEELS LIKE AN ENERGETIC MESS, SOME SERIOUS CHAKRA BALANCING/ALIGNMENT IS NEEDED.

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    Q: What are some things I can do so that I can sleep at night?

    A:

    To induce sleep naturally, we recommend the following Dherbs products (to be used or taken before bedtime):

    Central Nervous System Formula
    Nerve Formula

    Also, drink soothing herbal teas of Kava Kava, Valerian Root, Passionflower, and/or Lavender about an hour before bedtime.

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    Q: I have high blood pressure, sleep apnea and would like to lose weight can you tell me what herbs are needed to cure these problems?

    A:

    Try FULL BODY DETOX, RESPIRATORY CLEANSE AND REGIMEN, and WEIGHT RELEASE CLEANSE AND REGIMEN.

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    Q: Does melanin have any relation to melatonin production in the body, thus improving sleep cycles? Would you please clarify if you are able?

    A:

    I have read that the two are related and have also read that there is no relation whatsoever

    Melanin is responsible for dark pigmentation of the skin. I actually refer to it as CARBON (Black matter). Carbon is what makes folks dark (and along with COPPER, electrical). Melatonin is a hormone secreted by the pineal gland in the darkness of night. You have to be sleep between 12 a.m. - 4 p.m. for proficient amounts of this anti-aging hormone. People who live and lead the nightlife are aging prematurely and dying prematurely. Melanin and melatonin are not the same. melatonin is a hormone where as melanin is not! They are not the same thing! They both deal with darkness or blackness though as melanin makes the pigmentation dark and melatonin is a dark colored hormone secreted in the darkness of the night.

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    Q: Is it common for single women to have their child sleep in bed with them?

    A:

    Yes, this is very common. Mothers love their babies. They are built to love and protect their children. The children do not hurt them, or leave them. It is a special bond. It's best to respect it while establishing your role in the relationship. Work with your fiancee on boundaries, that can be rolled out over time. For example, she will move the child to her own bed over the next two weeks. She will then lie down with her in her own bed for another week etc. You create a plan together to help everyone adjust to a new masculine family member. Be honest about what you need to feel respected.

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    Q: What can be done for sleep apnea?

    A:

    OVERDOSE ON MSM SULFUR (6 CAPSULES BEFORE BEDTIME). CHANGE YOUR DIET AND DETOX PERIODICALLY.

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    Q: I suffer from insomnia what can I take to sleep?

    A:

    I suggest: NERVES FORMULA (3 capsules two times a day) DREAM-AID INSPIRANT NERVES TEA (1 cup before bedtime)

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    Q: My hand keeps falling a sleep, what can do?

    A:

    You have poor circulation in your extremities! Try CIRCUL-AID FORMULA, VEINS FORMULA, and CARDIO-VASCULAR FORMULA.