The phrase “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the bed bugs bite,” first appeared in an English book in 1896 and has been used ever since to wish others a sound, proper night’s sleep. We shower, brush our teeth, set our alarms, read before bed, browse social media to relax before drifting to sleep. We go to bed at an appropriate time, hoping we’ll achieve that golden eight hours of sleep, which we’ve been told time and time again will allow us to be productive the following day. But why do we even sleep and how much sleep do we actually need? Do we really need eight hours to feel rested and rejuvenated the following day? In this age of being constantly busy and having restless minds, is getting eight hours of sleep even possible anymore?
Why we sleep
Throughout history, researchers have investigated why humans sleep. A variety of studies — from those examining the effects in humans and animals deprived of sleep to observing sleep patterns in different species — have produced theories.
The inactivity theory suggests that being inactive at night was a mere survival function — staying still and quiet at night allowed humans to avoid being vulnerable and exposed to dangers in the dark. Through evolution, this strategy became what we need today as “sleep.”
The energy conservation theory states that the primary function of sleep is to reduce the energy demand and use of humans. Many restorative functions of the body, such as muscle growth, tissue repair, protein synthesis, and growth hormone release, occur mostly during sleep — supporting the restorative theory, which explains that sleep exists to restore what is lost in the body while it is awake.
Read the rest of this article in the September issue of Contour.
~Stephanie Jaipaul, Georgia ’22, ASDA Electronic Editor