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Why do we need sleep? Part of the answer may be to strengthen memories.
Publish Date: Topic: Body + BrainBody & BrainBrand: NOVA ScienceNOWNOVA ScienceNOW

(This video is no longer available for streaming.) We spend about one-third of our lives sleeping. Why? Believe it or not, scientists don't know for sure. But evidence is building that sleep may play a crucial role in strengthening memories and facilitating learning, not just in humans but in most animals.

NOVA scienceNOW visits research labs at the University of Pennsylvania and MIT, where scientists are peering into the brains of dozing flies and rats to understand the connection between sleep and memory. At Harvard Medical School, host Neil deGrasse Tyson tests his powers of learning on a virtual ski machine and a speed typing exercise, and then catches some z's. He discovers that it's not practice that makes perfect, but practice plus a good night's sleep.

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Major funding for NOVA is provided by the David H. Koch Fund for Science, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers. Additional funding is provided by the NOVA Science Trust.