USC Dornsife neuroscientists and USC Viterbi engineers are trying to uncover what happens in the brain during sleep, as reported by Medical Xpress.

“Why we sleep is still one of the greatest unsolved mysteries of science,” says Terese Hammond, Keck Medicine of USC pulmonary critical care physician and director of the USC Sleep Disorders Center. “No one yet knows the true purpose and nature of the state of sleep.”

We may not know the reasons behind it, but here’s what’s clear: Many of us don’t get enough of it.

More than a third of Americans get less than the needed seven hours of snoozing a day, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Over time, lack of sleep takes a toll on our well-being—so much so that the CDC calls it a public health epidemic. That makes the field a formidable frontier for scientists and physicians.

“This is a very exciting time for sleep research,” says Steve Kay, dean of USC Dornsife and a biologist who has long studied the sleep-wake cycle. It’s also a growing area for USC physicians and other health care professionals who see the wider effects of poor sleep among the patients in their clinics and exam rooms.

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