Good Morning Planet,
Today we are going to discuss one of the most interesting phenomena of our daily cycle – Sleep!
Before we go full hardcore on the science of sleep – let’s begin with the basics.
What is sleep?
Yeah, well, what is sleep?
The textbook definition says – Sleep is a condition of body and mind which typically recurs for several hours every night, in which the nervous system is inactive, the eyes closed, the postural muscles relaxed, and consciousness practically suspended.
In simpler terms, like a computer goes in hibernation after inactivity, our body and mind experiences sleep during which our systems shut down partially, and we get into a power-saving mode.
Let’s explore more!
What will be considered an Ideal Sleep?
If you start researching, you will find countless theories around the ideal sleep time.
- An artist or an entrepreneur might suggest you four-four and a half hours.
- A sleep specialist will advise you six-six and a half hours.
- A general physician will recommend you 7-8 hours.
So we don’t have a general consensus here!
How Does Sleep Impact Your Overall Health?
Proper sleep is necessary for optimal health and can affect hormone levels, mood, and weight. Sleep problems, including snoring, sleep apnea, insomnia, sleep deprivation, and restless legs syndrome (you must have seen few characters around you, annoyingly shaking their legs), are common.
- Sleep improves cardiovascular health
Heart attacks and strokes occur due to poor cardiovascular health. A good night’s sleep keeps your heart pumping.
You don’t want it to stop, do you?
- Sleep reduces the risk of cancer
Nighttime sleep is essential. Melatonin is a hormone naturally produced by the human body and is responsible for regulating the sleep-wake cycle. It also protects cells against cancer as it suppresses the growth of tumors.
Lights off, baby!
- Sleep reduces stress
Lack of sleep can accelerate the production of the stress-response hormone cortisol. The more cortisol your bloodstream contains, the more complicated your life would seem.
Close your eyes, take it easy!
- Sleep makes you more alert
Sound sleep makes you feel energized and alert the next day. Not only will you experience higher energy levels, but your overall productivity and performance will improve too.
And, when we say PERFORMANCE, we mean between the sheets!
- Sleep improves your memory
When you are sleeping well, half of the time, you don’t remember where your phone and tv’s remote is. Amplify this 10 times, and that’s what happens if you are not getting enough sleep daily.
You can aspire to be an ‘American Psycho,’ but unfortunately, you ain’t handsome like Christian Bale.
- Sleep can help you lose weight
If you want to maintain or lose weight, don’t forget that getting adequate sleep regularly is a massive part of the equation. Insomniacs are mostly bone-dry, and obese people have poor sleeping habits.
Sleep to slip in that dress, sister.
- Sleep improves mental health
Poor sleep can make you depressed. Sleep is essential for your brain to process reality. Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. Lack of serotonin can influence your mood and efficiency negatively and may result in mental disorders.
Sleep, don’t let anyone fly over the cuckoo’s nest!
- Sleep repairs the body
Your body needs rest to repair and rejuvenate cells. Your muscles need to relax. Those eyes enjoy a little shut lid. Sleep gives enough room for your body to perform repair tasks in a gonzo mode, which slows down while you are awake.
Sleep – that’s the ultimate fix!
Now that we have covered the basics, let’s delve deeper!
Apart from regular sleep, there are other ways to enjoy this fulfilling experience –
- Lucid Dreams
Well, they say, napping makes you smarter
Nighttime sleep isn’t the only way to complete your sleep requirements. Day time napping is also a refreshing alternative. So next time, when you feel that caffeine craving to drive boredom away, close your eyes, and take a nap.
Research indicates that daytime naps, shorter than one hour, can increase your mental abilities four to six times compared to those who don’t nap. People who nap at work show much lower levels of stress. Napping also improves memory, cognitive function, and mood.
Next time your boss catches you dozing off at work – you know what to say!
You don’t need psychedelics to alter reality. You got lucid dreams for that. Lucid dreaming happens when you’re conscious during a dream. Around 55 percent of people have had at least one or more lucid dreams in their lifetime.
You’re aware of your consciousness, during a lucid dream. It’s a form of metacognition or awareness of your awareness. Mostly, lucid dreaming allows you to control what happens in your dream.
Researchers claim that lucid dreaming has therapeutic benefits and could be useful in treating conditions like anxiety, PTSD, or recurring nightmares.
Lucid dreaming allows you to alter the details of your dream, something on the lines of Christopher Nolan’s Inception.
Say no to drugs; Say yes to lucid dreams!
Bizarre Sleeping Habits
No article is complete without the reference of legends. Therefore we bring to you most bizarre sleeping habits of legendary artists –
- Winston Churchill enjoyed a two-hour nap every day.
Every day at 5 p.m., British Prime Minister Winston Churchill would drink a little whiskey and take a two-hour nap. Churchill believed that his practice allowed him to get 1 1/2 days’ worth of work done every 24 hours.
- Charles Dickens slept facing north to enhance his creativity.
Dickens, who reportedly had insomnia, always kept a navigation compass with him to ensure that he wrote and slept facing north. He believed that this quirky practice improved his creativity.
- Novelist Emily Brontë walked briskly in circles until she crashed.
The 19th-century celebrated novelist and poet had insomnia, and she would walk in circles around her dining room table until her body gave up and she fell asleep.
- Leonardo da Vinci’s never slept. He took 20-minute naps every four hours.
Da Vinci religiously followed an extreme polyphasic sleep schedule referred to as the Uberman sleep cycle, which includes 20-minute naps every four hours. This unconventional sleep cycle may have a lot to contribute to his genius.
Thank you for not dozing off while reading this!
Also check out our podcast regarding the same.