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Why do we sleep?


Image is from the great web comic series, XKCD. My guess is that:

1) the process of storing long-term memories generates hallucinations.
2) if you're hallucinating, it's safer to disconnect your brain from your body, so you don't walk over a cliff chasing that unicorn.


Also: staying awake makes the brain available for a wide variety of tasks, performing these tasks generates waste products and toxins that accumulate in the spaces between neurons, so the brain needs to partly shut down periodically to clean away these toxins. The system that cleanses the brain is the glymphatic system.

[Thanks for the information. A citation showing that toxins accumulate more when awake would be useful. -- Ford]

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