The field of science is capable of some amazing things, mostly because it’s filled with all the Albert Einsteins and Doogie Howsers the world has produced over the centuries. But it may shock you that some of the most mundane, everyday concepts are as big a mystery to scientists as they are to the average toddler.
#8. Why We Sleep
As far as we know, virtually every creature on earth enjoys a good night’s rest as much as people do (though the hours we choose to sleep varies greatly). So obviously sleep must serve a key purpose for all living things, right? Well, it turns out science doesn’t have a clue.
That’s why science sits outside your room every night, watching.
What we have is a handful of proposed explanations for sleep that not many scientists can agree on. There’s the theory that it’s helping the brain clean house after a long day of learning. You see, your brain is constantly generating new pathways thanks to all the stuff that you see and do all day, so sleeping is when all the useless info gets tossed out.
Or maybe, instead of ditching the stuff that’s not necessary, the brain might be reinforcing the stuff you do need. Scientists have seen that, when rats were asleep, the same neurons fired as when they had run mazes earlier that day. That means that the rats are essentially reliving their day and “practicing” the maze. This has led Harvard sleep researchers to assert that sleep is crucial for humans to form memories and to learn.
So really, passing out in the middle of an all-nighter is a valid study tactic.
But there’s a problem with both of these theories. Plants and microorganisms, otherwise known as “things without brains,” have dormant states that are very similar to sleep, which kind of puts doubt on the whole “sleep is good for the brain” theory. Then there’s the fact that scientists have found certain humans who can go without sleep with no ill effects. There’s even one dude who claims he hasn’t slept a wink in 33 years.
In fact, all of these theories kind of went out the window when researchers discovered a gene mutation that allows people to sleep two to four hours a night without any adverse effects at all. So, is sleep useless, then? Is it just God’s way of making us take a break between masturbation sessions? Your guess is as good as science’s.