Evolutionary significance of sleeping


  • Amir Mortazavi McMaster University


We have evolved to sleep a third of our lives, eight hours each night. However, when we sleep, we are unable to gather food, reproduce, fulfill our social needs, and we are more vulnerable to predation. Therefore, from an evolutionary perspective, we would not have been selected by nature to sleep this much if sleep was not absolutely vital to our survival. In this literature review, we attempt to explore the vital roles of sleeping at a physiological level. This study explains the effects of sufficient sleep on mental processes of memory and learning, emotion regulation, creativity and problem solving. Moreover, we discuss how lack of sleep and extended wakefulness are highly correlated with the impairment of the mentioned processes and the pathology associated with them. This study identifies sleep as the main pillar of well-being and health. The implications of this are becoming more and more relevant as humans are the only species that intentionally deprive themselves of sleep, resulting in one of the major troubling problems of the 21st century.

Keywords: sleep, sleep deprivation effects, memory, emotion regulation, creativity and problem solving