Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate February 2002

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Man was placed on the earth with the basic instinct to survive in a dangerous world. One of these instincts was to rest everyday for a period of time while the sun was down. Today, with our advancements in science and medicine, sleep remains to be one of those basic instincts still to be explained. Mosby's Medical, Nursing, & Allied Health Dictionary defines sleep as a state marked by reduced consciousness, diminished activity of the skeletal muscles, and depressed metabolism (Mosby NP). This definition gives insight to the perspective of sleep by defining it as a state of relaxation within the body. However, what does it do? What higher purpose does it serve? The science behind sleep remains a mystery, but the effects of it and the deprivation of sleep on the body, are displayed daily as an influence in the performance of youths during the day.

An enigma, wrapped within a puzzle comes to mind when thinking of sleep.

Sleep is not a tangible object that can be caged and studied. It is more of a concept to be understood. An animal can live without sleep just as long as it can survive without eating (Dahl 354). This fact points out just how important sleep is when considering it a necessity, equal to the necessity of eating. One third of most people's lives are spent asleep, or attempting to sleep (Swanson 96). Facts such as these show little insight into sleep, but show how far science has come in its understanding of the concepts concerning it. Science and technology has attempted to push beyond these concepts by continuing to ask why, designing new experiments to answer their questions. This method of questioning has allowed for an understanding of what sleep is, and how it works.

Researchers have broken the...