One of the more interesting aspects about the scientific process is that it cannot be based on commonly held or assumed wisdom. This leads to criticism of experiments and, by extension, the entire field of science when researchers test something we all assume we know. For example: calling fruit fly research a waste of government funding because we all know what fruit flies are, dontchaknow?
Which is why it seems strange to research sleep. You know, that thing we all hate when we’re young and elusively seek as we age. But, what’s sleep for, other than to chase bunnies or be Vikings?
In what could easily be the plot of an already-cancelled Real Genius TV series (you’re welcome, Netflix), three Caltech students snuck into the jellyfish lab after hours to settle a bet: whether jellyfish sleep. They observed sleep-like behavior in the jellyfish:
1. They didn’t move much at a set time of night.
2. They were slow to react to stimulus in this state.
3. After being kept up all night by squirt torture (welcome to SeriouslyGuys, disappointed porn Googlers), they were clearly out of sorts and needed a deeper sleep the next night.
So, it turns out you don’t need a brain to need sleep. Which means that, while we still don’t know why we sleep, this does explain why certain relatives will be passed out on your couch this Thanksgiving.
There’s a town in England where no one gets a good night’s sleep. They go to bed, they fall asleep, but then all of a sudden, a hum pulsates through the homes, disturbing all of the residents. It has gotten so bad that some people have left the area just so they can sleep.
New research from University College London indicates that kids who stay up late watch more television and are more likely to fail reading and math. They found a decline in test performance in those staying up past 9 pm. And the more irregular their sleep schedule, the worse their overall performance got.
So, now we know why late night television gets dumber and dumber the longer hosts stick around.