The function of sleep

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Otherpeer-review


The function of sleep was a longstanding mystery in neuroscience, but there is now compelling empirical evidence for several key functions of sleep. Elucidating these functions and their underlying pathways is a hot area for the field of sleep research today, and many open questions remain. What we have gleaned from recent data is that it is important to view sleep as a synthesis of processes that enable improved functioning during wakefulness. There is no single universal function of sleep, but rather a collection of synergistic functions that are each of varying importance to different species. In humans, sleep plays critical roles in consolidating memories, restoring energy stores in the brain, clearing wastes from the brain, immune function, metabolic function, and overall health.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSleep, Health, and Society
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Aetiology to Public Health
EditorsFrancesco P. Cappuccio, Michelle A. Miller, Steven W. Lockley, Shantha M. W. Rajaratnam
Place of PublicationOxford, UK
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages8
ISBN (Print)9780198778240
Publication statusPublished - 23 Aug 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Brain
  • Brain maintenance
  • Consolidation of memories
  • Energy stores in the brain
  • Functioning
  • Health
  • Immune function
  • Metabolic function
  • Sleep function
  • Synergistic functions
  • Wakefulness

Cite this