Functions of Sleep: Evolutionary Explanations

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Evolutionary Explanations

  • Energy Conservation
  • Warm blooded animals need to expend a lot of energy to maintain a constant body temperature.
  • Particularly problemativ with small animals.
  • All activities use energy, animals with high metabolic rates use even more. 
  • Sleep, provides a periof of enforced inactivity; hibernation.
  • Foraging Requirements
  • The time spent sleeping may be constrained by food requirements.
  • Herbivores spend their time eating plant which are poor in nutrients.
  • Must spend a great deal of time eating and not much sleeping.
  • Carnivores can afford to sleep.
  • Predator Avoidance
  • Sleep is constrained by predation risk.
  • Predator can sleep for longer; prey have to be vigilant for predators.
  • Waste of Time
  • Meddis proposed the waste of time hypothesis. Sleep helps animals stay out of the way of predators during the day.
  • Sleeping furing the hours of darkness. and where they will be hidden.
  • Sleep may ensure that animals stay still when they have nothing better to do with their time.
  • Siegel says being awake is riskier than sleeping.
  • Only possible explanations for sleep is that it enables both energy conservation and keeping an individual out of danger


  • Energy, foraging


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