Sleep is a vitally important process for the brain and the body. The need for sleep ("sleep pressure") increases gradually during the periods that we are awake, as reflected by us feeling tired, and dissipates when we sleep, reaching the lowest levels just before we wake up fresh and rested. Evidence indicates that the brain is among the first targets that are impacted by sleep deprivation. However, despite this extensive knowledge of the importance of sleep, much controversy remains about the biological mechanisms that convey the numerous benefits of sleep.
The predominant idea that sleep plays a "restorative" role fits well with our subjective experience. However, the question remains: what precisely needs to be restored after a period of wakefulness and how do restorative changes occurring at the level of individual cells benefit from a global shut down occurring during sleep?
Read more (Department of Physiology, Anatomy & Genetics website)