Last one out of the Kinjaverse, turn out the lights.
Last one out of the Kinjaverse, turn out the lights.

Otters Oddities

Illustration for article titled Otters Oddities

Dreaming about a sleeping lion is just a whim away. A whim away, a whim away.........


I sit here, standing before you, thinking about everything, but then again, I'm thinking about nothing.

Not really. I'm actually thinking about how to start todays post. Do I just jump right in, or do I gradually work my way to the subject? I've done both methods in the past, and I just can't decide which one I prefer.


To some, it may seem like I'm just trying to up my word count, but that's not true. There is no set length of my oddities posts. Some are long, but some are short. It all depends on things like the subject, and how creative I'm feeling.

Aw hell....enough of this twaddle! I'm just going to get to the point.


We all do it. Some do it better than others, but everyone sleeps. Animals sleep. Fish sleep. Even plants have a version of sleep.


Personally, I don't sleep all that well. Usually, I can fall asleep fine. Insomnia knocks every now and then, but generally, I'm asleep within 30 minutes of going to bed. It's staying asleep I have a problem with. If I fall asleep at 11, I'll be awake again at 1. And that's when I have a hard time sleeping. If I don't fall asleep again within 10-15 minutes, I'll be awake for a few hours. I can usually fall back to sleep about 30 minutes before the alarm starts complaining.

Been that way my whole life. My mom was like that too, and so are her siblings. So, I blame them.


But when it comes to sleep, like I said, everyone does it. The only thing is, we're not sure why.

Oh, there are theories, to be sure.

Like the theory that the brain uses the down time to reinforce what you went through during the previous day. Some scientists think this helps us remember things for later recall. They experimented on rats, and found that when sleeping, neurons in the rats brains fired the same as they did when the rats were awake and running a maze. They concluded that the rats were remembering the maze while sleeping.


Good theory, but that doesn't explain the cycle of dormancy that plants go through. Are they reliving the days pollination?

Other scientists say we sleep so the brain can recharge itself. It uses the down time to take a break from thinking so it's more efficient when we're awake. And everyone who has stayed awake for extended periods knows that the longer you go without sleep, the less alert you get.


Except, not always. Some people can function fine on less sleep than others. For some, they need 3 hours. Others need 7 or 8. And some need a full 12. If brains were recharging, there would be less variation in the amount of time needed to sleep.

One of the earliest theories it was a safety feature. During the day, animals were safe. There was light, and they could see what was lurking. (sometimes) At night, they couldn't see. That made it dangerous. It also made it hard to forage. Humans, being animals ourselves, were thought to have just carried on as we evolved.


Problem is, there are nocturnal creatures. Ones that can see just fine in the dark. Plus, noses can detect the scent of predators or prey. And as humans evolved, we developed methods of maintaining light throughout the night. We aren't as vulnerable at night anymore. Yet, our need for sleep hasn't diminished.

Some think it's so the body can rest and rejuvenate it's self. Being awake and active takes a toll on the body. We tear our muscles constantly. Sleep may be a time for them to repair. It also gives our organs a rest and a chance to fix any incidental damage done.


Again, good theory, but there are issues with it as well. While our muscles can repair themselves while we sleep, they also repair themselves while we're awake. And our organs do the same jobs while we sleep that they do while we're awake. And what about animals, like a sloth, that is incredibly inactive and almost certainly has no damage to repair. And, again, why do plants go through a dormant phase?

The plain and simple truth is, there is a very good reason why we sleep. The problem is, we don't know what it is yet. We may never know. And knowing why may not be important in the larger scheme of things.


But then again, it might. How can we fully understand sleep and what it does for us if we don't know why we do it? How will we figure out how to extend sleep for things like deep space travel, if we don't know why we sleep? And, consider the English Sleeping Sickness. Many people died by falling asleep and just....never waking up. They could be woken up, but they wouldn't wake up on their own.

So, it would actually be helpful if we knew exactly what sleeping did for us.

Someday, someone might figure it out. Personally, I think I'll go do some intensive research on the subject by gaining first hand experience with the phenomena. For a couple of hours, at least.

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