When one is sleepy and one attempt's to work on something cognitively demanding, such as doing algebra in one's head, or trying to imagine a house's interior in detail, what causes the "resistance" to focus on such problems?

I feel like part of the problem is related to circadian rhythm, particularly with respect to cortisol as a vigilance heightener. Surely there is more to this though.

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    $\begingroup$ To me, this question is almost equivalent to "Why do we need sleep?" $\endgroup$ – Steven Jeuris Dec 4 '18 at 11:45

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