Why people sleep: scientists have given an accessible explanation

Alina MilsentNews
Scientists have explored the importance of sleep

Considering the brain as a biological computer whose resources are depleted during wakefulness, scientists have noted that sleep resets the brain's "operating system." In fact, sleep returns the brain to an ideal state to optimize thinking.

The researchers combined physics and biology to formulate the quintessence of the importance of sleep. The details were reported by New Atlas.

The question that has concerned scientists and researchers for centuries is: why do we sleep? What gives us the satisfaction of this fundamental need? Some scientists say that sleep removes toxins from the brain, while others say that it helps the body restore energy or that it is crucial for the formation of long-term memory.

Scientists from Washington University in St. Louis have found the most optimal explanation.

Kate Hengen, the author of the study, compared the brain to a computer.

"Memory and experience "change the code" during awakening, slowly optimizing the system. The main purpose of sleep is to restore the body to its optimal state," the scientist emphasized.

This comparison is quite logical. If we take into account electrical signals to transmit information, long-term memory is like a hard disk for storage and retrieval, and neurons represent circuits. Using a computer means running a number of resource-monopolizing processes in the background, which can lead to a slowdown over time. Applying the "criticality hypothesis," researchers have suggested that the brain works in a similar way.

In the field of physics, criticality describes a complex system that exists at a tipping point between order and chaos. Physicists first developed the concept of criticality in the late 1980s.

Scientists tried to understand the function of sleep within the framework of criticality. The researchers measured the electrophysiological responses of individual neurons in the visual cortex of young rats as they freely carried out their normal sleep/wake cycles.

"The results suggest that each waking moment pushes the relevant brain circuits away from criticality, and sleep helps the brain reboot," Hengen summarized.

In general, the researchers say that their observations were consistent with the previous hypothesis that maintaining criticality is the main regenerative function of sleep.

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