To Sleep, Perchance to Dream? Aye, there’s the rub…

Image linked from Quanta Magazine

https://www.quantamagazine.org/sleep-evolved-before-brains-hydras-are-living-proof-20210518/

QUICK, which Shakespeare character gives this famous speech (that I dutifully memorized in high school)?

“…To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say we end
The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause…”

Yes, thank you, Hamlet.

Back to the Science:

I have always understood from my neuroscience colleagues, that humans (and animals) need sleep because our powerful multi-processing brains need downtime to repair, rebuild, consolidate memories, and even allow a pseudo-lymphatic system to remove waste.

Now, it seems, that brainless hydras and jellyfish exhibit sleep behavior. So, if we needed sleep before we needed brains, WHAT IS GOING ON?

Another fact: as life evolved, we had guts before we had brains, so is that a hint?

The article linked above is a fascinating dive into neuroscience and makes you question what you know. The best kind of writing.

Author: CT Lin

CMIO, UCHealth (Colorado); Professor, University of Colorado School of Medicine

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