But here’s the kicker: why we need so much sleep is still unknown, even to scientists who have dedicated their lives to working it out.
What we do know is that sleep is actually an active state. Sometimes, our brains use even more oxygen and glucose when we’re lying in bed at night than they do during the day.
To be able to say that sleep does this in order for the body to that is difficult. What we do know is that when we’re asleep, our bodies relax, we go into a state of repair and our consciousness is partly suspended. In this way, sleep is thought to keep many physical organs healthy – such as the heart – as well as nurture our mental capabilities, helping us do things like store memories and organise thoughts.
Getting an appropriate amount of sleep can also work as a barrier against excessive hunger, stress, sickness and bugs.
Despite there being no scientific proof, we can feel that sleep helps us reboot. ‘Clean sleeping’ (that’s active dedication to regular high-quality, eight-hour rest) has been named 2017’s new ‘clean eating’. Sleep shouldn’t be considered a luxury nor an overindulgence; it’s as essential to the human body as food and water – we wouldn’t survive without it.