Even without fully grasping what sleep does for us, we know that going without sleep for too long makes us feel terrible, and that getting a good night's sleep can make us feel ready to take on the world.
Scientists have gone to great lengths to fully understand sleep's benefits. In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other vital functions. The features in this section explore these discoveries and describe specific ways in which we all benefit from sleep.
Although scientists aren't entirely sure why we sleep, they have many ideas about the functions of this mysterious part of our lives. While some of these functions may have deep evolutionary roots, others, such as sleep's potential role in memory and health, seem particularly relevant to life in the 21st century.
It may not be surprising that it is more difficult to take in new information following a night of inadequate or disturbed sleep. What’s more surprising is that it is just as important to get a good night’s sleep after learning something new in order to process and retain the information that has been learned.