Thursday, 21 March 2019

Can Any Animal Survive Without Sleep?

By Megan Gannon, Live Science Contributor | March 2, 2019 07:49am ET
Some do it hanging upside down. Some do it for a few hours at a time. Some do it buried under a blanket of mud.
Regardless of their preferred mode, bats, elephants, frogs, honeybees, humans and more have something in common: They all sleep.
In fact, scientists have yet to find a truly sleepless creature. But is sleep really necessary for survival? [Why Do We Sleep?]
The dangers of sleeplessness
Most humans will acknowledge that sleep is absolutely necessary.
People often struggle to function after even just one sleepless night. Poor sleep over the long term has been linked to a host of negative health effects, from heart disease and stroke to weight gain and diabetes. These connections, and the fact that all animals seem to slumber, suggest that sleep must play an essential function for animals. But what is that function? Does sleep allow the brain to repair damage and process information? Is it necessary for energy regulation in the body? Scientists and thinkers as far back as the Greek philosopher Aristotle have offered explanations for why we sleep, and yet, the exact purpose of sleep remains an open question.
In the 1890s, Marie de Manacéïne, one of the first female physicians in Russia, was troubled by the mystery of sleep.
"We all love life, and we all wish to live as long as possible, but in spite of this, we sacrifice one-third, sometimes even half of our life in sleeping," Manacéïne once wrote. In her quest to figure out what exactly sleep is, she conducted the first sleep-deprivation experiment in animals.
Using an approach that now seems quite cruel, the physician kept puppies continuously awake, finding that they died after a few days of sleep deprivation. Over subsequent decades, further sleep-deprivation experiments using other animals, like rodents and cockroaches, found similarly fatal results. However, the underlying cause of death in these cases, and how it relates to sleep, is still unknown.

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