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9.3 The Need for Sleep

Sleep—in the sense of an organism becoming periodically inactive—is widespread thruout nature, and is not limited to the higher animals. For example: “many insects do rest during the day or night. These rests are called quiescent periods.”[114],[115] And: “The authors of the book The Invertebrates: A New Synthesis write: After activity there is need for rest, even for ‘busy bees’. Honey bees enter a state of profound rest at night, with remarkable similarities to the phenomenon of sleep.”[116] And: “Fish do have a quiescent period which can be called ‘sleep’. Tropical freshwater fish in home aquaria can be observed resting immediately after turning the lights on in a room which has been darkened for several hours.”[117] And: “Yes, frogs and toads sleep with their eyes closed. ... Snakes, like all reptiles, do sleep. They are capable of doing this quite soundly despite the fact that they have no moveable eyelids. Moving your hand in front of the face of a sleeping snake will often not cause it to wake up for several seconds.”[118] And: “Sharks don’t sleep as we know it, but they do rest. Often they will come to a quiet bottom area and stay there motionless.”[119]

As to why sleep happens, the mathematics-only reality model has no explanation, because there is nothing about physical particles that implies the need for periodic shutdowns. However, unlike the mathematics-only reality model, the computing-element reality model does have an explanation for sleep, in terms of the nature of intelligent particles: For an intelligent particle, its sleep period is the time during which its learned programs have stopped running (they have, in effect, been shut down), and instead the learning algorithms of the computing-element program (section 3.6) are running against those learned programs.[120] Thus, in effect, all changes to an intelligent particle’s learned programs (including any additions or deletions of learned programs) are made when that intelligent particle is asleep.

Given that sleep is a part of each intelligent particle—irrespective of the presence or absence of a common-particle body—it follows that all intelligent-particle beings sleep. Thus, for example, the Caretakers sleep. And, for example, people in the afterlife sleep. And each organic life form—assuming it has at least one bion—sleeps. Thus, for example, bacteria sleep.

For a complex organism with many bions, the periods of sleep for those bions can be synchronized and/or unsynchronized as needed, in accordance with the needs of that organism. For example, each bion in a plant—which lacks a nervous system and associated mind—can probably sleep according to its own arbitrary schedule, without causing harm to the plant as a whole (at any one time, roughly the same percentage and distribution of the plant’s bions would be asleep—although for plants that rely on photosynthesis, probably a higher percentage of the bions are awake during daylight). But for those organisms that have a nervous system and associated mind, which controls the organism’s movements in its environment, a more or less synchronous sleeping of those bions would be the case, during which time the organism is perceived to be asleep, resting, quiescent.

For any bion, a longer sleep period means more time for the computing-element program to apply its learning algorithms to that bion’s learned programs. By the time a child is born, that child has many learned programs that collectively form its mind, and, in effect, these learned programs need to be integrated with each other and the soliton, given both the allocation plan for that child (section 9.6) and the child’s new and continuously growing body. It seems likely that the need for modifications (such as minor adjustments) to a child’s learned programs would be greatest at its earliest age, and then decline with age. And this appears to be the case: “It is well established that infants and children need much more sleep than adults. For example, infants need about 16 hours of sleep, toddlers about 12, and school age children about 10. ... during puberty our need for sleep actually increases again and is similar to that of toddlers.”[121]


[114] The web citations in this section are all from a website called The MAD Scientist Network, provided by the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis USA. The purpose of this website is to provide a forum where people can ask questions to be answered by scientists. The quoted selections—three of these quotes are slightly edited for improved readability (specifically, three commas and a missing to were added)—are from answers to questions asked by other persons (none of the questions were asked by me).

[115] From the post RE: insects, made by Kurt Pickett (Grad Student Entomology, Ohio State University).

At http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/dec96/840907460.Gb.r.html

[116] From the post RE: ants and sleep, made by Keith McGuinness (Faculty Biology).

At http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/dec96/841965056.Zo.r.html

Also regarding sleeping insects, the fruit fly (Drosophila) sleeps (Fly naps inspire dreams of sleep genetics. Science News, volume 157, number 8 (February 19, 2000): p. 117):

The researchers videotaped flies during rest periods to document the insects’ behavior. During the night, the flies crawled off to resting places and settled into what the researchers define as a sleep pose, slumped “face down,” Hendricks [the lead researcher] says. For about 7 hours every night, the flies stayed still except for a few small twitches of the legs and proboscis. As the evening progressed, it took louder and louder taps on the cages to rouse the insects.

In some sessions, the scientists kept the flies from their rest by tapping whenever the insects stayed still for more than a minute. The rest-deprived animals compensated by sleeping more over the next few days, as sleep-deprived people do.

[117] From the post RE: Do fish sleep?, made by Bruce Woodin (Staff Biology. Woods Hole).

At http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/may96/827165604.Zo.r.html

[118] From the post RE: Do snakes eat their own eggs?, made by Kevin Ostanek (Undergraduate, Lake Erie College).

At http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/mar97/853172239.Zo.r.html

[119] From the post RE: Sharks, made by Roger Raimist (Prof. Biological Sciences).

At http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/may97/863470221.Zo.r.html

[120] Having a clear separation between when the learned programs are running and when they are being processed for possible modification (by what are, in effect, a separate group of programs, the learning algorithms), simplifies the overall complexity of the computing-element program, because synchronization and load-balancing issues between the two program groups are minimized. Also, by not running the learning algorithms when the learned programs are running, this means that during the time when the learned programs are running they get a larger share of the underlying computing-element’s processing time and can consequently, in effect, do more during that time.

Alternatively, if there is no clear separation between when learned programs are run and when they are modified, then one faces the difficult problem of modifying a program while that program is still running: given an arbitrary learned program, and an arbitrary set of changes to be made to that learned program, how does one modify that learned program without corrupting what will be the output from that learned program when that learned program finishes its current processing?

[121] From the post RE: You are right, children are much more active in their sleep, made by Salvatore Cullari (Professor and Chair, Lebanon Valley College).

At http://www.madsci.org/posts/archives/aug97/866216598.Ns.r.html

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