An article that discusses new findings that are changing the way that neuroscientists are thinking about sleep appears on the Dana Foundation website.
sleep—mammals, reptiles, even fruit flies. And while plenty of
behavioral studies show the restorative effects of sleep and the
detrimental cognitive effects to vigilance and short-term memory tasks
when it is withheld, it has not been clear exactly why we must
periodically lose consciousness in this way. But some recent studies
examining its neurobiological mechanisms have led to new hypotheses
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