WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Nobody really knows the purpose behind sleep.
- Though sleep has been correlated with better function and memory, some animals can function well on just 2 hours of sleep- like the elephant.
- Though all animals and humans sleep and studies show that sleep is essential, there is still no one solid purpose behind sleep.
When you think of dogs or cats, you can probably picture them lazing around and grabbing Z’s the whole afternoon on the living room floor.
Now that would make you wonder, do animals need that much sleep or they snooze just because they can? Do humans need more sleep?
The truth is… no one really knows the answers to these questions.
Dr. David Raizen, associate professor of neurology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine said that even if sleep is constantly studied, “We really don’t know what sleep is for.”
In animals, Raizen said scientists have been able to identify a connection between function and sleep. Certain kinds of sleep can increase an animal’s ability to cope with illness or to consolidate memories. Though these relationships still don’t necessarily pinpoint the ultimate purpose of sleep.
You’d think more sleep would make an animal a genius. However, a 2017 study published in the PLOS One journal said that elephants sleep only for an average of two hours each night, but these animals are known to be very intelligent and have long memories.
Why would a massive animal like an elephant function perfectly well on two hours while a human needs at least eight hours of sleep? A 2005 study in Nature theorizes that sleep is inversely related to body size- the bigger the body, the less sleep is needed.
Perhaps it’s because more time is needed for bigger-bodied creatures to consume food to sustain itself.
However, sleep is still hard to measure and interpret as some sleep may be done simply as a matter of convenience.
For humans, Raizen said what’s most important is for people to follow their own body’s urges to sleep as much as they need.
Source: Live Science