Q: What is the purpose of sleep?

There are many, many theories behind the purpose of sleep, but the truth is that there is not just one reason why we sleep.  Different areas of our body and mind receive different benefits from proper sleep.  For example, sleep has been listed as a primary key to survival simply because it allows us to stay awake during the daytime. Sleep is also essential for memory consolidation—when someone has a good night's sleep, they remember more. We also need sleep for body temperature regulation and new protein synthesis. 

From another perspective, sleep deprivation or lack of proper sleep has been linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease, increased blood pressure and obesity, lower body temperature, and impaired immune system function. The bottom-line: Sleep is needed to stay healthy.

Sudhansu Chokroverty, MD, FRCP, FACP, is Professor of Neuroscience at Seton Hall University School of Graduate Medical Education, South Orange, NJ, and Clinical Professor of Neurology at Robert Wood Johnson University Medical School, New Brunswick, NJ.  He is also currently Professor and Co-Chair of Neurology and Program Director for Clinical Neurophysiology and Sleep Medicine, at the New Jersey Neuroscience Institute at JFK Medical Center, Edison, NJ. 

After graduating in Medicine from Medical College, Calcutta and University of Calcutta, India, Dr. Chokroverty had post-graduate training in internal medicine and neurology in hospitals in the United Kingdom (UK).  After being certified in Internal Medicine, he became a Member of the Royal College of Physicians (MRCP) of UK.  Residency training in neurology and fellowship training in neurophysiology took place at Northwestern University Medical School, Chicago, IL, and Hines VA Hospital, IL.  Dr. Chokroverty is board certified in neurology, electrodiagnostic medicine, sleep medicine, and clinical neurophysiology.  Dr. Chokroverty is the Founding President of the World Association of Sleep Medicine, an international organization devoted to promoting sleep health throughout the world. He was the Founding Chair of the Sleep Section of the American Academy of Neurology, a member of the Advisory Board of the National Center of Sleep Disorders Research of the National Institute of Health (NIH), and the Chair of the Sleep Science Award Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology.  Dr. Chokroverty is the Founding Editor-in-Chief of the journal, Sleep Medicine, an international journal dealing with clinical sleep disorders. He is the author or editor of fourteen published books and five books in press, including fifteen books dealing with sleep medicine, one on management of epilepsy, one of movement disorders and two on magnetic stimulation in clinical neurophysiology.  He has published extensively in both national and international scientific journals producing over 500 papers, book chapters, and abstracts, and has made over 285 presentations at national and international conferences. 

Dr. Chokroverty’s recent research interest has focused on sleep and movement disorders; restless legs syndrome; sleep disordered breathing in neuromuscular disorders; autonomic failure and neurodegenerative diseases, and actigraphy in Insomnia diagnosis and management.