[Paleopsych] why do we sleep?

HowlBloom at aol.com HowlBloom at aol.com
Sun Jul 3 13:29:51 UTC 2005

I  found this, stopped what I was doing, filched it, wrote a few sentences on 
 it for you, and here it is.  Just something to niggle at your brain while  
it niggles at mine... 
The  evolutionary reason for sleep and for the dream for flying are two of 
the most  intriguing unanswered mysteries faced by modern psychology.  If the 
work of sleep researchers like J.  Alan Hobson and William Dement give you the 
feeling that sleep is at least one  area of study we can afford to pause and 
take a nap about, think again.  Don’t even bother to think.  Just ponder this 
simple  eye-opener: 
“Dolphins sleep with one-half of the brain  at a time, closing one eye while 
floating or swimming about.” 
Does  that jar you awake?  It certainly  snaps me to attention.  Now the 
question is this.  Why DO we  sleep?  (And why do we dream of flying?)  Does 
anyone have hard  research or persuasive anecdote on this...aside from the usual 
suspects, like we  sleep to digest the learning from experiences of the day?   
Here’s the article this comes from: 
Retrieved July 3,  2005, from the World Wide Web  
http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20050702/fob1.asp  Science News Online  
Week of July 2,  2005; Vol. 168, No. 1 Sleepless in SeaWorld: Some newborns and 
moms forgo  slumber  Naila Moreira  Orca-whale and dolphin mothers and their  
newborns appear not to sleep for a month after the pups' birth, researchers  
report. Neither parent nor offspring shows any ill effects from the long 
waking  stint, and the animals don't later compensate with extra sleep.  
a6302_1551.jpg  UP WITH THE BABY. An orca-whale mother  and her newborn pup may forgo 
sleep for several weeks before adopting a normal  pattern. Dolphins also exhibit 
this behavior. SeaWorld, San  Diego  No  previously studied mammal stays 
awake for so long, says Jerry Siegel of the  University of  California, Los  
Angeles (UCLA), an investigator in the study.  In the months following their 
wakeful  period, baby whales and dolphins—and their mothers—ramped up slowly to 
sleep  amounts typical of normal adults, Siegel and his colleagues report. The 
infants'  sleep pattern contrasts with that of other mammals, which need extra 
sleep  during infancy and gradually sleep less as they age.  Oleg Lyamin, also 
of UCLA, started  observing an orca mother and her baby just after it was born 
at SeaWorld,  San Diego. Orcas usually snooze for  5 to 8 hours a night, 
closing both eyes and floating motionlessly.  The SeaWorld orca mother and baby,  
Lyamin found, neither shut their eyes nor remained motionless. Instead, the  
animals were constantly active, with the infant surfacing for a breath every 30 
 seconds. The researchers made similar observations of another SeaWorld orca 
mom  and baby.  The team also watched  dolphins at the Utrish Dolphinarium in  
Moscow. Dolphins sleep with one-half of the brain  at a time, closing one eye 
while floating or swimming about. The team  observed no sleeping behavior in 
the first month after birth among four dolphin  mom-baby pairs.  The findings, 
 reported in the June 30 Nature, challenge prevailing notions of the purpose 
of  sleep, some researchers say. "We're under the belief that if you don't get 
 sleep, you can't perform, and you're at risk for developing all sorts of  
disorders," says Paul Shaw of  Washington  University in  St. Louis. For 
instance, rats die after being deprived of sleep for  just 2 weeks.  The UCLA data 
are  "the beginning of a change in the way we view sleep," says Shaw.  
Scientists have commonly hypothesized that  people and other animals require sleep for 
brain development and learning  (SN: 6/1/02, p. 341: 
http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20020601/fob6.asp).  "Here we have a developing [whale or dolphin] 
youngster with no evidence of  sleep," says Irene Tobler of ETH-Zurich in  
Switzerland. "It  will revolutionize many people's ways of thinking."  Siegel 
argues that sleep is not required  for brain development in these and other young 
animals and instead plays some  role as yet unknown.  Alternatively,  whales 
and dolphins may have evolved unusual compensatory mechanisms that permit  
them to develop without sleep, while other animals still require sleep for brain  
development, Tobler says.  Robert  Stickgold of Harvard  University suggests 
that mother and baby whales and dolphins may  have evolved an unusual form of 
sleeping. "A sleepwalker makes it down the  stairs, into the kitchen, into the 
refrigerator quite well while a [brain wave]  recording says they're in deep 
sleep," he notes.  Stickgold says that such recordings from  the animals could 
help determine whether the orcas and dolphins are awake.  Siegel speculates 
that mothers and  babies of both species need constant activity to survive. The 
mother pushes the  baby to the surface to breathe at regular intervals. Also, 
the baby must stay  warm in cold water while it develops its blubber coat.  
"The mystery is that they're ...  dispensing with sleep behavior when so many 
sleep researchers have assumed that  sleep has a vital function," Siegel says.  
If you have a comment on this article that you would like considered for  
publication in Science News, send it to editors at sciencenews.org. Please include  
your name and location.  To  subscribe to Science News (print), go to 
https://www.kable.com/pub/scnw/  subServices.asp.  To sign up for the  free weekly 
e-LETTER from Science News, go to  
http://www.sciencenews.org/pages/subscribe_form.asp.  References:  2005. No sleep in the deep: Unlike other  mammals, 
newborn dolphins and killer whales stay active 24/7 during first months  of 
development. University of  California, Los  Angeles press release. June 29. Available 
at  http://www.newsroom.ucla.edu/page.asp?RelNum=6274.  Lyamin, O. . . . and 
J. Siegel. 2005.  Animal behaviour: Continuous activity in cetaceans after 
birth. Nature 435(June  30):1177. Abstract available at 
http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/4351177a.  Further  Readings:  Bower, B. 2002. Snooze power: Midday nap may 
awaken learning potential.  Science News 161(June 1):341. Available at  
http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20020601/fob6.asp.  Brownlee, C. 2005. Losing 
sleep: Mutant  flies need less shut-eye. Science News 167(April 30):275. 
Available at  http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20050430/fob2.asp.  Hesman, T. 2000. 
Fly naps inspire dreams  of sleep genetics. Science News 157(Feb. 19):117. 
Available at  http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20000219/fob4.asp.  Milius, S. 
2004. Sparrows cheat on  sleep: Migratory birds are up at night but still 
stay sharp. Science News  166(July 17):38. Available at  
http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20040717/fob7.asp.  Sources:  Paul Shaw Anatomy and Neurobiology  
Washington  University  School of Medicine 660 S. Euclid  Avenue Campus Box 
8108 St. Louis,  MO 63110  Jerry Siegel Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences 
Center for Sleep  Research Neurobiology Research 151A3 VA GLAHS Sepulveda 16111 
Plummer Street  North Hills, CA 91343  Robert Stickgold Center for Sleep and  
Cognition Harvard  Medical School Beth  Israel Deaconess  Medical Center  
E/FD861 330 Brookline Avenue Boston, MA 02115  Irene Tobler  Institute of  
Pharmacology and Toxicology  University of Zurich Winterthurerstrasse 190  CH-8057 
Zurich Switzerland  http://www.sciencenews.org/articles/20050702/fob1.asp  From 
Science News, Vol. 168, No. 1,  July 2, 2005, p. 3.  Copyright (c) 2005 
Science Service. All  rights reserved. 

Howard Bloom
Author of The Lucifer Principle: A  Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of 
History and Global Brain: The Evolution  of Mass Mind From The Big Bang to the 
21st Century
Recent Visiting  Scholar-Graduate Psychology Department, New York University; 
Core Faculty  Member, The Graduate  Institute
Founder:  International Paleopsychology Project; founding board member: Epic 
of Evolution  Society; founding board member, The Darwin Project; founder: The 
Big Bang Tango  Media Lab; member: New York Academy of Sciences, American 
Association for the  Advancement of Science, American Psychological Society, 
Academy of Political  Science, Human Behavior and Evolution Society, International 
Society for Human  Ethology; advisory board member: Institute for 
Accelerating Change ; executive  editor -- New Paradigm book series.
For information on The International  Paleopsychology Project, see: 
for two chapters from  
The Lucifer Principle: A Scientific Expedition Into the Forces of History,  
see www.howardbloom.net/lucifer
For information on Global Brain: The  Evolution of Mass Mind from the Big 
Bang to the 21st Century, see  www.howardbloom.net

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