Why It’s Important To Get Enough Sleep

A family peacefully sleeping in bed with two children.
Spending time on sleep can be terribly frustrating — when you study all day and then do your homework in the evening, you are left with virtually no time for rest, TV shows, or video games. If you stay up late once or twice playing your favorite online game or chatting with your friends, nothing especially bad will happen, but you might nod off in the morning. However, consistently depriving yourself of two to three hours of a good night’s sleep is a very bad idea. Why is this so?

Why We Need Sleep

Sleeping is a strange thing to do. Why would living organisms spend at least seven hours a day in deep unconsciousness? After all, it can be dangerous: a predator or a thief can easily sneak up on a sleeping person. Besides, there is so much you could be doing apart from sleeping!

This was the reasoning of scientists when they tried to figure out why we sleep. They began by trying to find a living creature that never sleeps — but they couldn’t!

As it turns out, something similar to sleep is observed even in the tiniest of living organisms; for example, in the millimeter-long roundworms nematodes, as well as in bacteria. However, bacteria’s “sleep” does not look exactly like ours. Free-living (that is, non-parasitic) bacteria have circadian rhythms, which means they can distinguish night from day. Most similar to humans in this respect are the photosynthetic bacteria. For example, during the day, the purple bacteria Rhodospirillum rubrum uses sunlight to make nutrients through photosynthesis. It doesn’t make food in the nighttime ­— instead, it “naps.”

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