Wonder of sleep

Discussion in 'Human Science' started by root, Nov 9, 2005.

  1. root Registered Senior Member

    I have often wondered about the purpose of sleep. Officially it has to do with rest and re-arrangement of thoughts and memories, for me this is just not quite enough. We see that even flies sleep, do they need to re-arrange there thoughts and memories? Sleep seems to be absolutely vital to the survival of animal, and some other, life forms to the extend that we can almost survive longer without food than without sleep. Since we are at our most vulnerable while we are asleep, you would think that evolution would have developed us in such a way that we would not require sleep, that we should be able to perform the required sleep functions while we are awake and maybe just in a state of rest. What is it about sleep that makes it that important? I am quite sure that there is a big secret hidden behind the purpose of sleep that, once discovered, will open new doors to the understanding of the brain and life in general.

    I once read about a theory that says sleep is the natural state of all life, to become awake is for life to move into the next phase of awareness.

    I, myself thinks that sleep has to do with some kind of renewal. We see that even most types of plants goes into a state of sleep during winter. It may not be the same type of sleep that we experience but it may have a similar function. The plant sleep definitely has to do with renewal, old leaves fall off and new once appear in spring. We also know that our cells in our bodies are constantly being replace to the extend that every 7 years we are virtually a new person. Now maybe there are something in the brain that also needs to be replaced and which can only be done while we are in a state of sleep. Whatever it is, it must be aging quite fast so that, optimally, it should be replaced once every 24 hours.

    I also believe that consciousness can never be switched off unless you die, for that reason we dream while asleep, our brains are fooled into thinking we are awake so that we can remain conscious. I know that officially we go through periods of sleep where we do not dream, I do not believe it, it cannot be proofed and I, myself, cannot remember ever waking up and not know that I was dreaming. We tend to forget dreams very quickly, people who think they do not dream just forget it quicker than others.
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  3. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    I have wondered similarly in the past.

    I do not, however, agree about your assesment regarding dreams and them occurring constantly in your sleep.
    Fact of the matter is, EEG studies have consistently shown that we sleep in stages which, by reasonable assesment of the patterns and waves, suggest we are sometimes too deep in our subconscious to have conscious thought.
    This "switching off" of, not the consciousness, but conscious thought, I think is the very reason we sleep.
    Why we do have to switch it off, though, is a great mystery, in my opinion.

    I have brought this up here in the past, but there is a theory I have heard...
    Someone put forth that during R.E.M., the activity in our brain has no patterns -it is simply random activity.
    If, during these times, we wake up (or are partially awakened to a level of conscious thought) our brain automatically tries to make sense out of the random patterns.
    Our brains will attempt to induce meaning from the activity, which actually means nothing at all.
    This would explain why many times our dreams seem to make little sense, but are in some ways related to what has been on our minds recently.
    It also lends much creedence to dream analysis as a form of psychology.
    We don't actually "dream" at all, as we know it, when we are sleeping.
    The dreams happen in the moment of waking when trying to make sense of what is happening in our brains.
    It would also explain many other oddities about dreams...
    Our seeming lack of rational thought and reason.
    The complete lack of a sense of time passing.
    Unquestioning the odd things happening during sleep.

    The one exception would be lucid dreaming, which could very easily be expalined by us being in a state somewhere between sleep and waking when they happen.

    I don't know if this hypothesis is correct, or even how we might fin out, but it is intriguing, none the less.
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  5. root Registered Senior Member

    Thanks for the input. I don't agree on this theory that you are not actually dreaming while asleep though. From my experience it would just be to difficult to explain certain things, for example I have observed in my dreams some peculiar behavior:
    I can be startled when something totally unexpected happens in a dream.
    I can remember things while dreaming which are false - not part of my conscious memory.
    My dreams are sometimes just to long for me to have it made up when waking.
    Also we tend to adjust our dreams around input from the physical world that enters our brains while we are asleep. An example is that if you are asleep while a radio is playing next to you then some of the sounds from the radio form part of your dreams. I remember once having had a hard time to wake up my wife, I was shaking her but she would not wake, afterwards she told me that she was dreaming about riding in a bout moving up and down on the waves. I have also observed my dog while she sleeps and dreams, she would go through long spells of growling, running or crying all suggesting that she is moving through a type of a story with definite episodes, not just random input.
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  7. duendy Registered Senior Member

    we can see the conscious mind as being includin the focused part, and ten there are deeper unconsciouss awareness........for example. in social situations. you may put on a mask/persona, and get so lost in your social role you become UN-conscious of oter things goin on. you may feel things you cant mention etc etc....also of course we all notice such subtle reality, but our survival mode only focuses on what's essential, BUT we are still aware of what we do not SEEM to notice......all of tis un-KNOWN part of us if given freedom in dream

    i dont agree dreams make no sense like a poster suggested here. it's more our awkened cohscious mind isn't familiar with te symbolism of dreams. not acording, necessarily to Freud and JUng etc, but to teir meaning for our life experience

    also of course we dont dream all te time. there are dimensions of stages of sleep, ...dreamless sleep is the mosthealing as te brainbody is most at rest and renewing itself. as in conscious life, too much brain activity can cause stress......isit any wonder then that people really stressed tendto dream a lot?
  8. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    I honestly don't see how these things would disprove the theory

    That may correspond to the amount of time you are in REM state and what sense your conscious mind makes of the rendom impulses.

    I had the same thought when I first read about it, but it doesn't hold water.
    In fact, it even reinforces the idea.
    The external stimulus would be exactly what I was referring to when I said that your mind tries to make sense of the random impulses at the point when you are reaching a state of conscious thought.
    You are partially awakened by the sounds/shaking etc.

    You couldn't possibly be able to make that determination with any degree of certainty.

    Again, I am not saying it is true, but it is intriguing.
    I think it is likely somewhere in the middle.
    At a point where were are more consciously aware of our sensory input (therefore less "dead asleep") our half-asleep mind is attempting to find meaning in the random impulses in our brain in addition to the information coming in from our sensory stimulation.
    What thoughts are most prevalent in our minds is what flavors our dreams.
    Depedning on the depth of sleep we are in (how in touch with rationality we are), the dreams could make more or less sense to us.
    Between R.E.M. states, there are periods of almost null brain activity (unconsciousness) in states of rest.
    A psychiatrist once told me that I should be happy that I almost never dream (or at least remember them) that just means, according to him, that I am sleeping too soundly for it.
    I don't know why our brains need to rest, however, and would very much like to.
  9. duendy Registered Senior Member

    "I don't know why our brains need to rest..and would very much like to"

    well organism needs to rest doesnt it? it can't be doing strenuous activities all the day and nightime long. it also cant be tense all the time. ie., some people fnd tey are tense even when consciousy relaxig

    so why the do you imgine the brain is divided from the organism?....for surely, you must have no problem knowing the 'body' needs rest......?
  10. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    The brain is not a muscle.
    What does muscle tension have to do with mental tension.
  11. alexb123 The Amish web page is fast! Valued Senior Member

    Maybe look at sleep another way. How long do we "need" to be awake? Surely we only need to be awake to gather food, have sex and secure shelter. Any addition time over and above this would mean that we need to gather/hunt more food. Therefore, we sleep at night to conserve energy. Which means we are safer in our cave during the night rather than hunting in the forest. Therefore, sleep has been selected for?

    So sleep might not be about 'what it does' but about what it enables us not to do!
  12. duendy Registered Senior Member

    hah well you just said it. 'mental tension'...altough the brain isn't a muscle it still cannot be wholly separated FROM muscle of the rest of te body......dont you find that mental tension involves muscle tension as well?
  13. alexb123 The Amish web page is fast! Valued Senior Member

    Also for much of Evolution we have not been able to operate in the dark, so why waste energy being awake? when its too dark to move. Also it is colder at night and better for us to be curled up in our shelter watching a DVD.
  14. one_raven God is a Chinese Whisper Valued Senior Member

    What are you talking about?
    They function completely differently.
    The brain does not get torn and have to rebuild during strenuous exercise.
    The term 'mental tension' has nothing to do with actual physical "tensioning" of the brain as it happens with a muscle.

    The point, though, is the the brain itself seems to need this period of rest apart from the body.
    You could lie prone and relaxed expending a minimal amount of energy and not put your muscles under stress and STILL need to sleep.
  15. EmptyForceOfChi Banned Banned

    very true raven, after meditation for long periods of time i can feel exausted, even more exausted than when i do physical training, and i train damn hard, physical trining is the easy part for me, its the mental aspecs that are the challenge.

  16. EmptyForceOfChi Banned Banned

    very true raven, after meditation for long periods of time i can feel exausted, even more exausted than when i do physical training, and i train damn hard, physical trining is the easy part for me, its the mental aspects that are the challenge.


    i knew i should have been more patient, bur i do like hearing myself talk, or seeing myself post, wichever its still me!


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