Sleep is a very interesting human activity. It is the only human act that can make us believe we are in a totally different world, and doing very strange things. It is also the closest we get to being dead while still being alive, for while asleep we are not conscious at all. Newborn babies need sleep the most, for the rest helps them grow, plus makes them look cuter to their parents. They easily sleep 16 hours a day.
As we get older we need less and less sleep, and it ends up being around 6-8 hours or so when we are fully grown. We’re supposed to get eight hours a night. But who am I kidding? Eight hours? What about late night TV shows, and overdue movies? What about those books you always wanted to finish reading?
For college students such as me, for people working the graveyard shift, and for new entrepreneurs, getting eight hours of uninterrupted time in the Land of Nod is just a dream that happens every other week at most. It’s a nice idea, but unless you are very efficient with your time, it is challenging to implement. Deadlines, internet activities, and juggling our social and work lives may all interfere with our goal to get enough sleep.
However, we all know intuitively that sleep is good for us. Students who are taking exams such as the ACT or GRE are told to sleep well the night before the exam. It’s actually a good idea to sleep well the two nights before the exam, because the negative effects of sleep deprivation are cumulative. Sometimes when you have a difficult problem to work on, and you are feeling sleepy, it is better to sleep and complete one’s work in the morning. There is a quietness of daybreak that encourages work and concentration. On the other hand, if you are a night owl, there is also a very quiet period of the night (except for cities like Cairo), from 3 – 5 A.M. However, most likely one’s mind will be free of distractions in the morning. In the morning, you feel like you have a new page to scribble on.
Much research has been done on sleep. It is well known that sleep is the period of time when the most growth occurs. Teenagers who sleep a lot and have a nutritious diet are more likely to be taller than those who have a deficiency in either. Uninterrupted sleep is more beneficial than chopped-up sleep. The reason is that sleep is divided into five distinct phases, each with a specific benefit. These stages are stages 1, 2, 3, 4, and REM, which stands for rapid eye movement. The dream phase of sleep doesn’t set in until the REM part of a sleep cycle. If you want to take an efficient nap, aim for 100 minutes (or about 1 hour and 45 minutes) because that is about how long a sleep cycle is. Sleep is good for you.
My uncle who lives in Egypt is almost 70 tells me he sleeps in short periods of three hours at most. He also gave me a valuable piece of wisdom, telling me that whenever one is feeling restless and cannot sleep, it’s best to get up and do something. Read an article, walk around, work on a project, or arrange one’s desk. He recommends only sleeping when one is exhausted. Another interesting thing he told me is the farmer (specifically the fellahin of Egypt who usually employ many manual tools to harvest) sleeps well and without any trouble. The reason is he has not cheated anyone, and is physically exhausted. So there are no regrets and there is no enmity burdening his conscience. Perhaps we can apply this in our modern lifestyle by doing exercise a few times a week, avoiding unnecessary drama(personal conflicts, showboating, etc.), and setting challenging but achievable goals each day.