This chapter looks at the question of whether too much sleep can be dangerous to a person’s mental and/or physical health. To answer the question, the chapter presents research on how sleep affects the body at various levels of functioning. These levels include the immune system, thermoregulation, cognitive functioning, and social intelligence. The results of sleep deprivation experiments are described, along with studies showing the role of sleep in learning and memory. Emphasis is placed on research showing the “neuroplasticity” of sleep, meaning the capacity of the brain to change, adapt, and reorganize itself in response to experience. The chapter also discusses various kinds of sleep pathology to show the negative consequences when the sleep cycle is not working in a normal, healthy fashion.
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