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Old 07-10-06, 01:30 AM
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Why Do We Sleep ?

Any comments ?





Why do we sleep ?


Excerpt taken from book: The Physics of Consciousness
by Evan Harris Walker
Pgs. 240-244



Obvious answers to this question immediately leap to mind. We sleep because darkness inhibited the day time activites of the aboriginal man. We sleep because our body is tired; we sleep to restore the chemical balance our body needs to function efficiently.



Because sleep does occur, the body certainly makes use of it to knit up the raveled sleeve of care, to rest the machine, to restore the chemical balance in the body.

But the heart does not sleep. It slows down. It takes advantage of sleep. But it does not stop and rest for some eight hours. The brain also slows down, but it doesn not cease its function. It would seem that the pressures of evolution would have wiped away sleep as the most hazardous of all possible behaviors. Surely the body should rest at night, and the brain should think at a pace consistent with what we find in the sleeping brain.

But how could the pressures of evolution permit the existence of such a hazard as the complete lapse of attentiveness that turns the body into nothing more than an awaiting meal for any wild beast ? Why do we need sleep so desparately ? It must be that sleep is vital as life itself; it must be vital to the very existence of consciousness.


The answer to the puzzle of sleep lies in the fact that the mechanism of consciousness that we described in the last chapter cannot go on indefinitely without periods of restoration. Consciousness has to pause. Every time another synapse enters into the quantum mechanical consciousness mechanism that couples distant synapses, some 200,000 electrons begin their hopping conduction into the brain’s sea of soluble RNA. A few of these electrons will play a part in firing synapses immediately. The brief presence of these electrons on the soluble RNA disturbs nothing. They disappear from the original synapse and reappear in the synapse they fire. In between, they behave in that mysterious quantum mechanical way: Although they need the stepping stones to make the journey, they are never in the space between.



But the many of the 200,000 electrons that start out never finish the journey. Their presence helps to smooth out the transition from one intersynaptic event to the next, smoothing out the consciousness experience so that the briefest consciousness interval is greater than the time required for a synapse to fire. But if this outpouring from excited synapses were permitted to continue uninterrupted, if there were nothing to drain off these excess electrons, consciousness would become one grand blur until the glut of electrons choked off consciousness altogether.



And this is where melanin comes to play. To prevent an excessive blurring of the consciousness interval, melanin is present in the outer layer of the brain. There it absorbs some of these electrons-some of this excess energy. Of course, just the right amount of melanin must be present there. Too much, and the melanin damps out the consciousness itself. Too little, and consciousness blurs.



If the quantum mechanical interconnection of synapses were limited to the average synaptic delay time during firing, our minimum conscious experience would be as brief as 0.3 millisecond-clearly shorter than we ordinarily experience it to be. Allowing for the full range of synaptic firings would give as much as about 1 to 3 milliseconds for the minimum consciousness time interval.

But there is only a small amount of melanin present. The cortex is only a pale gray. It absorbs only about 10% of the radiations that falls on it, and so we can estimate that perhaps only about 10% of these electrons will be absorbed during the interval of 1 to 3 milliseconds. For the melanin to to damp out most of the activity from any synapse, it requires 10, 20, or 30 times as much time. As a result, the characteristic time interval for consciousness is not 1 millisecond, but more like 30 or even 40 milliseconds.

During this time, 80% to 85% of the excess electrons are absorbed. This, then, agrees with the time interval of about 0.04 second that we previously found for the minimum time of consciousness- the length of the tick of the consciousness clock.

This is another point of agreement between theory and the way we actually experience our own conscious existence. Everything fits. Everything is tied to the way everything else works. The machinery that runs our consciousness is a finely tuned engine. The strange presence of a ‘tan’ on the brain, the minimum time interval we consciously experience, and the quantum mechanical nature of consciousness are all woven together into this silken fabric of reality.


But something else can also happen to the hopping electrons. They can stop on one of the stepping stones. And when one of the electrons ceases to stop hopping and stops on a given RNA molecule, that stepping stone is no longer in the game. It is no longer available to help maintain consciousness. If this goes on long enough, the RNA stepping stones become used up and consciousness stops.

Sleep comes and continues until this excess energy clogging up the engine of consciousness is bled away by chemical or other means that can restore these radicals (the excited RNA molecules) to their normal ‘ground’ state. This process takes hours-much too much time for it to occur while the brain is conscious and continuing to use up the supply of unexcited RNA molecules.


During the conscious state, we have 23.5 trillion synapses, each of which fires an average of once every 67 seconds, with about 200,000 electrons being released to the RNA each time a synapse fires. At this rate, the 745 billion billion soluble RNA stepping stones would be occupied-used up-in only 3 hours.



The presence of the melanin significantly reduces this problem. The fact that we can stay awake 16 to 20 hours without difficulty reflects the fact that the melanin damps out between 80% and 85% of this electron activity. But the remaining 15% to 20% continues to use up the available material necessary to maintain the synaptic intercommunication of the quantum mechanical consciousness. As more and more of the molecules are used up, the brain reaches a condition in which consciousness can no longer be maintained. The brain must sleep.

Sleep has to begin so that these excited RNA molecules can make their natural transitions back into their unexcited states. By morning they will have to support consciousness again. If the brain doesn’t sleep, the supply of ‘stepping stone’ RNA disappears and unconsciousness eventually results.

In addition, the brain must also quiet down. It has to reduce the rate of its synaptic firings. This means that two things must happen during sleep: Consciousness has to stop, and the level of synaptic firing must diminish to permit restoration of the pool of soluble RNA back to the ‘ground’ state.



With this rather simple idea in mind, it is straightforward to show in detail how sleep works. The rate at which we lose the RNA (that is, the rate at which an electron gets stuck on one of the molecules, removing it from the game) depends on the rate at which synaptic firing is pumping out electrons into the sea of 7.45 x 1020 RNA molecules and also on the rate at which the RNA molecules is recovered. This recovery rate for the RNA (the number of RNA molecules that return to being normal, per unit of time) depends only on the number of excited-state RNA molecules in the brain at any particular time.



Thus, beginning with the level of available RNA at, let us say, 90% of the total, and with a level of brain activity at twice the minimum needed to just maintain consciousness, the supply slowly drops. The minimum synaptic firing rate that just maintains consciousness depends on how much RNA is available.

If we have the total supply available to serve as stepping stones, then we calculate the minimum firing rate to be about 0.015 per second (once ever 67 seconds on average). If during our waking hours we maintain a level of activity twice this (0.03 per second, or once ever 33 seconds for the synaptic firing rate), then consciousness can be maintained until we have “used up” half of the RNA, which will require 16 or so hours. After 16 hours, when the amount of available RNA begins to drop below the 50% level, a synaptic activity of 0.03 firing per second will no longer support consciousness.


Sleep comes, and in order to restore the available RNA, the brain drops back to a level of activity of about 0.01 firings per second, or about once every 100 seconds for the average synapse. This constinues for 6 to 8 hours, after which time most of the supply of RNA has become available to support consciousness again.

Thus, the presence of melanin and the natural transitions from the excited to the unexcited state of the RNA build up the supply of these molecules over the next 8 hours or so of sleep, restoring the RNA supply to its initial level. At this point, the cycle can repeat.


Many people, especially “night people”, run on a different cycle. These people do not start the day at an activity level like the 0.03 firings per second for the average synapse. Rather, their morning activity level barely rises above the minimum to achieve consciousness.

If that describes you, you will spend most of the day operating on half your cylinders. You will be conscious, of course, but with just a small drop in the level of the available RNA, you just might drop back below the level of consciousnesss- back to sleep.

Toward the end of the day, however, night people still have a large reserve of conscious activity because of the available RNA. If you are one of them, that’s when you enter a period of heightened conscious activity. For a few hours you really feel alive, sharp, and bright. But of course, all that extra nighttime sharpness rapidly uses up the rest of your reserve. At one or two o’clock, finally, you can fall asleep.


There is another scenario. It is also possible to force extended consciousness. Say one begins the day at an average synaptic activity of 0.03 firings per second, when half the available RNA is used up, this level of activity is then the minimum that sustains consciousness.

By applying further stimulation-drinking quantities of coffee, perhaps, or experiencing a heightened level of sensory excitement (say to a level that corresponds to an average synaptic activity of 0.04 firings per second)- one can still maintain consciousness even when the available RNA sinks below the 50% level, to as low as, say, 38%, or lower.

This heightened synaptic activity compensates for the drop in available RNA molecules so that consciousness can be sustained, extending consciousness for hours more before sleep becomes necessary. We have all experienced the fact that excitement can overcome even severe drowsiness.


Of course, this is not all there is to how sleep works. In reality, the brain has many special structures, such as the thalamus and the reticular formation, that monitor and coordinate the brain’s levels of activity, controlling the brain so that it will efficiently carry out these requirements of the physics of consciousness.





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  #2  
Old 07-10-06, 11:59 AM
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Heya N,

The author appears to be using
e-/RNA as a surrogate for the usual -
replenish 'energy' stocks argument
... for sleep ... and seems to be saying that - in effect - when RNA molecules for soaking up e-
's are depleted - so do we need to sleep to allow our e- free RNA stocks to be regenerated.
Author ->
"Every time another synapse enters into the quantum mechanical consciousness mechanism that couples distant synapses, some 200,000 electrons" ->
Not too sure how this is to be interpreted.
The classical pattern for neurotransmission involves positively charged Na+ ions being pushed out and returned into the cell --> driven by ATP (true -> a component of RNA) ... and the generation of ATP is usually discussed relative to the proton motive force --- and not the electron motive force.
Electrons appear not to get too high a billing (classically - when we look at neurotransmission and energy production to power the process).
RNA (I don't believe) - has ever been described as an electron sink - though I do believe that the precursor to RNA -> ATP --- which has 3 negatively charged phosphates --- stores its energy within an electron sink of sorts ---> though polymerization of ATP into RNA molecules - results in loss of 2 of the phosphate groups -> making it unlikely that the monophosphate will have any out of the ordinary electron sink properties --->
generally ATP->ADP->AMP represents a fall in the energetic states of these species ... and RNA is composed predominantly of the MP form.
RNA takes >>> seconds to generate (de novo) --- and neurotransmitters and neurotransmission tend not to use newly generated RNA/DNA (polymer) subcomponents on account of the speed required (in firing and neurotransmission) (there is a lag period though -- in which a neurone is unresponsive) (not comparable with the period of time to regenerate a RNA or DNA or aa polymer though), that is --- the rapidity required to regenerate neurotransmitter stocks (post-firing) and also to permit firing to occur rapidly --- post-initial excitation.

Accordingly --- the usual path of DNA->RNA->protein is ostensibly redundant in actual neurotransmission in the brain.
Supportive - yes ... but not involved in the actual process.

However, about 1/2 of all human genes are expressed in the brain --- and expression always results in RNA being formed. RNA is important in the brain - as it is elsewhere ... though as an e- sink?

Melanin is interesting --- but in a slightly different way to described.
Melanin (eu-/ ph-/) is a component of the skin pigment --- but --- also of neuromelanin --- an important part of the story.
Melanin and dopamine (structurally) are both derivatives of tyrosine ... and I believe that melanin (periphery) during evolution --- moved over to the brain (see pro-opio melanocortin) (POMC) and assisted in the generation of primitive brain ---> that melanin and dopamine then became integral components of the first brain --- and that the geometric centre of the brain --->the VTA --- a truly ancient structure --- which contains dopaminergic neurones --- the centre of addictive behaviour --- and to my mind --- :-) ... the most important part of the brain -> localized adjacent to the locus coeruleus.
VTA -> dopaminergic neurones
Locus coeruleus -> neuromelanin

So - sleep --- why?
beta alpa theta delta
high -> low frequency EEGs may hold the answer --- noting that they're delivering a sign of activity within the outer envelopes --- the cortex - I guess ... predominantly.

Do animals have EEGs?
do androids dream of electric sleep?
Do animals show the same pattern of sleep as we do?
a scanner darkly?
Do animals have the same pattern of sub-component of EEGs as we do --- delta->beta?

So beta -> normal waking activity.
REM sleep similar to beta in frequency
delta -> lowest frequency.

Saccadic eye motion occurs in REM.
So - think pedal and wheel moves, move wheel and pedals move --- ... :-)

So - it looks like we've another evolutionary psychology subject ->
parietal cortex -> motor, visual and predictive --> see a three-headed 1 inch weebledweeble [visual] ---> work out whether it's a threat [predictive] ----> run [motor] -----> the predictive bit - presumably involves the internal model of reality where a
three-headed 1 inch weebledweeble is matched against a 20 foot fanged munglebungle (very nasty indeed) ...

So ... sleep ... motor (once upon a time)
Evolutionary psychology
Now...
different stages -> different cortical firing rates --> different stages of reality encoded by our minds ---> sleep -> now --> building the stage for the 'theatre of consciousness' ...

Prediction -- more sleep required and of the deeper sort (REM) when building
the theatre ... the stage.

The stage is richer in the ADDer --- ADDers inhabit more richly encoded rrreality.
rrreality is internal --- everything we know is present within our mind.
The structure and what fills our minds are the two factors which make us ... us.

The template ADDer structure = nonADDer structure in all bar one feature --- the ADDer mind contains the metalevel.
Simply imagine the ADDer mind as diamond in relation to the nonADDer mind of graphite --- with neurone as carbon ---> and there we are.

Analogy with short and longisightedness ---> with age comes a reduced need to sleep and also reduced time in high freq sleep (REM).

So ... sleep has changed in its nature with our evolutionary progression.
Any conservation of energy argument (note - compare with hibernation) ... is now no longer of any importance to us ... sleep (evolution is the master of re-use of reusable components --- shifting these components into totally different contexts ... remember histamine in the body and mind ...oh ... so ... different ... physiologically-speaking) ... sleep ~-now-~ is simply the vehicle used to develop and remodel our internal rrreality models --- over and over --- until they converge on some pure model (RRReality) ---> no gonna' happen any time soon though -> though intimate convergence of webs + 1 + ...?speciation events TBA?

oh! forgot the imho ... whoopsy,

CU s. words ****

And the only difference between us and them --- us being man and them being not --- is that *we* can encode our own character on the 'theatre of consciousness.'
Initially - we were the character (one thread) -- first person singular ---> and then we adopted >1 thread of conscious awareness (the shift to ADD -- which began -10k when we adopted written language) --- and which allowed us to observe ourselves on our own internal theatre of consciousness.
Third person shoot 'em ups ... 'bang'
Little cat Z ... 'voom'
And now my mind is all white.
And all pink is all wrong.

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Old 07-10-06, 12:39 PM
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It was these paragraphs (see below), that I found interesting, S.
Akin to a rechargeable battery- which needs to be recharged, upon reaching the 'low level mark'.


Nova





"Thus, beginning with the level of available RNA at, let us say, 90% of the total, and with a level of brain activity at twice the minimum needed to just maintain consciousness, the supply slowly drops. The minimum synaptic firing rate that just maintains consciousness depends on how much RNA (ribonucleic acid) is available.

If during our waking hours we maintain a level of activity twice this, then consciousness can be maintained until we have “used up” half of the RNA, which will require 16 or so hours..... when the amount of available RNA begins to drop below the 50% level, .... synaptic activity.... will no longer support consciousness."
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Old 07-10-06, 01:10 PM
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Why do we sleep?

I am sure Nova and SB have a much better explanation than I do because the only thing I can come up with at present is I need to sleep so I can understand this post (while being attacked by a kitten, squirming in a chair, talking on cell phone, plus listening to Gary give detailed accounts of his plans for the day - which I already know won't resemble the activities he will actually accomplish and recite at the end of today)

My mind needs a brain break? ~~~~~~~
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Old 07-10-06, 01:11 PM
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How about a rechargeable battery metaphor -- when the battery reaches 'full' and needs to be taken off the charger?

Experiences of the day need to be introduced into our internal rrreality models (rrreality) --- what if our temporary store of the days' activities which need to be laid down --- exceed the capacity of our temporary 'short-term' experience/thought/idea holding bay.
Long-term storage will be much more efficient than short-term --- I guess ... perhaps short term storage area full is the trigger for sleep?

Long-term storage area -> metamodel web -> stage of the theatre of consciousness.

The problem with the RNA idea is - is there any one species of RNA or do all work similarly --- there are as many RNAs as there are genes --- and the RNA idea would presumably work better on a species of RNA with more A's or U's or G's or C's ... perhaps --- different chemical structures.
Different e- sink capacities?

Also -- how would we remove the electrons from the RNA molecules .?.?. and how do they get there in the first place .?.?.
RNA hangs around inside the cell ... and so the electrons would have to be both placed within and removed from --- from the nucleus of the neurone.

mRNA is generated in the cytoplasm ... but translocates into the nucleus almost straight away - to meet ribosomal RNA (the largest species of RNA) in the cell.
Ribosomal and transfer RNAs dwarf messenger RNAs ... and they occur (rRNA,tRNA) -- almost exclusively within the nucleus.

The problem then --- would be that electrons would have to negotiate a route from extracellularly (where the Na+ have travelled during depolarization) or the mitochondria (the electron transport chain) ... which does indeed result in ATP ---> power depolarization.

Just running around these ideas trying to make them fit ...

Akin to a rechargeable battery- which needs to be recharged, upon reaching the 'low level mark'.
Are we more like a classical rechargeable battery or a self-sustaining power supply ... kinda' like Escher's waterfall ... there ... waterflow continues ... without a need to rest.
"Thus, beginning with the level of available RNA at, let us say, 90% of the total, and with a level of brain activity at twice the minimum needed to just maintain consciousness, the supply slowly drops. The minimum synaptic firing rate that just maintains consciousness depends on how much RNA (ribonucleic acid) is available.
Examining EEGs ... the high end of delta, theta, alpha vs beta is kinda' 15 vs 30 Hz (respectively) ... which I guess one might describe as the brain working at double rate when supporting an individual in the waking state (alert) vs the other wave ranges (which can occur in sleep) ... I wonder whether this is perhaps what his idea relates to (...twice the minimum...).
Bit confusing because consciousness and conscious awareness are not the same.
.... synaptic activity.... will no longer support consciousness."
The battery full rather than empty idea.

Probably a good time to place myself in the glass is full rather than empty camp.
Not half full.
Really so not half empty.
Absolutely so not really oh --- so not!!! empty.

the glass is full
the battery is full
... and I'm aw' full ... :-) ...
and so are you (have you eaten?)

S
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Old 07-10-06, 01:28 PM
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Tam's 4000 today ...

yay!

s
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Old 07-10-06, 01:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SB_UK
consciousness and conscious awareness are not the same.
.... synaptic activity.... will no longer support consciousness."

I totally understand and agree with you on this.


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Old 07-11-06, 06:12 AM
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Hi'a N'nueva,
What do you think of ... consciousness, conscious awareness and threads of conscious processes, awareness?
S
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Old 07-11-06, 10:45 AM
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Hey who keeps moving the threads, this is worse than a house full of ADD children-lol.


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Tam's 4000 today ...
Gee and I only feel fifty!

I read some pretty good stuff on sleep which made me very sleepy. Now if I can only remember which PC I left the information on (okay this is why all the computers in the house are always on)


Apparently I will have to access the information when yahoo messager is done down loading.
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Old 07-11-06, 11:44 AM
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S,

I agree with Stabile's comment on this- from that thread.

'There isn’t any reason that more than one such process couldn’t be instantiated, using the same models and drivers (thus, the sense of ‘threads’ of conscious awareness, rather than separate conscious processes).'
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