Is sleep essential? The answer seems obvious, since we all have to do it, but to a sleep scientist, the question of what constitutes sleep is so complex that scientists are still trying to define the essential function of something we do every night. The search for the core function of sleep can seem as elusive as the search for the mythological phoenix, says Chiara Cirelli, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison. Some scientists argue that sleep is merely a way to impose a quiet, immobile state (rest), and isn't important by itself in mammals and birds. This is the so-called "null hypothesis," and Cirelli and co-author Giulio Tononi reject it. Read More...
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