Why can’t we go to sleep on demand like how we are controlling other parts of the body?


We can stop breathing when we want to. We can also “tell” our body to do what we want such as moving, holding, typing, etc. So why can’t we just “tell” our brain to go to sleep immediately instead of having to wait for it to fall asleep.

In: 826

We don’t know.

We know that sleep is a very complex process: several things must happen in a specific way for sleep to happen but we don’t understand why we cannot command those things.

Sleep is an unconscious act and we have no executive control over it, we just *fall* or *shift* into a sleep state.

The same reason you can’t directly control your heartbeat, blood pressure, or how much you’re sweating.

Some processes are regulated by our autonomic nervous system. This system is not consciously controlled as a default because it’s more efficient to be regulated by hormones and other neurotransmitters. Ultimately, like most things, it’s “good enough” to get us to reproductive age and have babies, so it never got selected out of this pathway.


A prof once said the only thing we know for certain about sleep is we do it because we’re tired.

It is quite a mystery with many good ideas but it’s difficult to prove them.

It is actually possible to do.

There are some advanced techniques like those practiced by some militaries and by some with very high suggestibility. (Think self-hypnosis.)

But one can fall asleep almost on demand using these techniques.