The American Physiological Society portion of Experimental Biology officially opened Saturday evening with the Cannon Lecture. This year's recipient of the award, Masashi Yanagisawa, addressed his work in understanding sleep.
Solving the mystery of sleep: from orphan receptors to forward genetics started with studies of the orexin knock-out mouse. They thought the mouse would have abnormal body weight; however, it ended up being a model of narcolepsy! He then went on to outline neural control pathways for sleep and genetic work in this area (disclaimer: brain stuff confuses me).
The talk outlined some fascinating finds;however, inspite of all of this study, we still do not know why we sleep. What purpose do these hours of unconscious helplessness serve? It must be important for all mammals to enter this vulnerable state every day.
More questions mean more science.