Why should the whale study lead scientists to “change the way we view sleep”? Among whales, the priority is that babies not drown in the first weeks of life. Maturational processes thought to occur during sleep, such as brain development, might have to be put on hold while this critical lesson is learned. Our neonatal sleeping pattern, 4-to-6-hour periods interspersed with bouts of feeding, is dictated by a critical need for rapid, overall physical development to achieve mobility. To live, the already mobile baby whale must first learn to breathe.

Brenda Marion Gray
Glen Burnie, Md.