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What exactly does sleep do for the body?

Most of us spend - or strive to spend - around a third of our lives asleep. Anyone who has experienced a sleepless night is all too conscious of the importance of a good night's sleep. Experts still aren't exactly sure why we sleep, although proper sleep is essential to brain development and maintaining basic cognitive skills. Thought processing, memory, and speech ability are all adversely affected by too little sleep. Proper sleep is vital to mental and physical development, as essential hormones are released during sleep. And someone who has slept well is likely to perform well the next day at school or work, as the brain slows down during sleep - meaning it will perform better when we awake. Our memory abilities are also affected by sleep. It's a well known fact that if you learn something and then "sleep on it" you may be able to recall and process the information more effectively Sleep affects the nervous system too. We use neurons during the day when we are awake and some experts think they are replaced at night when we sleep. If we don't sleep properly, our nervous system suffers because neurons don't perform as effectively as they should. Healthy sleep can also help to regulate your appetite. Sleeping helps to control the level of certain hormones, which play an important part in how hungry you feel. You may feel the need to eat more if you haven't had enough sleep.