Research suggests that sleeping may provide time for learning, especially among infants. As newborn infants are overwhelmed with new sights and sounds, sleep gives them time to explore and learn about themselves. This theory differs greatly from the original idea that twitches during REM sleep are caused by leaked signals slipping through to the motor cortex. Psychology professor Mark Blumberg feels that during sleep, the twitching of different parts of the body allows infants to determine what particular nerves do, and what response their activation will produce.
So, “why do we need sleep?” Currently there are many theories about the purpose of sleep. It is felt that sleep may have evolved to protect us, keeping us hidden from potential predators. Secondly, it is thought that sleep acts to repair damage that has occurred to the brain during the day. Researchers also believe that memories are solidified during sleep, transferring from short term to long term. Also, sleep is thought to be related to growth, as growth hormones are released during sleep (Myers, 2007).