Clearing Your Brain’s Cache (Newsweek, Oct. 25, 2013)

ImageEach night, most of us willingly, eagerly slide into a near-death state. Okay, call it sleep. But just because it happens all the time, doesn’t mean it’s not strange, even dangerous. It seems like pretty bad evolutionary design to have to be defenseless for a good chunk of your lifetime, but evolution usually doesn’t get things wrong.

We know sleep is important – dolphins have developed a system in which only half their brains sleep at a given time to ensure both safety and sufficient zzz’s – but we don’t know why. For years, researchers and philosophers have wrestled with this question, coming up with theories ranging from the adaptive (we sleep so saber-toothed tigers don’t eat us while we stumble around blindly at night) to the restorative (we sleep so our bodies can replenish all the stuff it used up during the day). Alas, these notions, while compelling, don’t match what happens in the brain during sleep.

The mystery may be solved. A recent study finally reveals the science behind why we sleep, and it has experts dusting off words like “landmark” and “game-changing.”

Read the rest at Newsweek: 


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