Sleep: A goodnight story

You stand up from the couch. Go upstairs. Lay yourself on a square box with a fluffy topping. Close your eyes and then do nothing for around 8 hours…

Sleeping. It’s a daily ritual. Everyone does it. And not only humans, also other animals. When we don’t do this we might even die. When we do it, we dream some nonsensical stuff and start fresh the next day.

Do we die?

It was a cold and dark winter in 1963. In December at the end of the year 17-year-old Randy Gartner stopped sleeping. He stayed awake for 11 days and 25 minutes (264.4 hours). A record attempt in which he had mood changes, but seemed OK just before ending his record attempt and recovered well afterwards.

What’s the purpose?

The next question is what’s the purpose of sleeping? Couldn’t I write a book much faster when I wouldn’t sleep? Couldn’t I be more productive 8 hours a day? This is probably thought from a 24/7 economy perspective where you have artificial light, always have some food in the fridge, and you can shop online at 2 o’clock.

  • cellular restoration
  • weight maintenance
  • emotional well-being
  • Immunity
  • Heart

Cycles

Another strange thing even with all these factors is why don’t just sleep, but go through several cycles every night (mostly three or four) like shown in the following diagram:

Sleeping at animals

All animals sleep. Sometimes it’s interesting to just watch them:

A dolphins brain

New research

There is still a lot we don’t know about sleep. Fortunately now sleep research is a central field to study. And there is still a lot to find out. In the leading journal “Sleep Health: Journal of the National Sleep Foundation” just 5 years ago the guidelines how much sleep we need, changed based on 320 studies. The current guideline is:

  • Newborns (0–3 months): Sleep range 14–17 hours (before it was 12–18)
  • Infants (4–11 months): Sleep range 12–15 hours (before it was 14–15)
  • Toddlers (1–2 years): Sleep range 11–14 hours (before it was 12–14)
  • Preschoolers (3–5): Sleep range 10–13 hours (before it was 11–13)
  • School age children (6–13): Sleep range 9–11 hours (before it was 10–11)
  • Teenagers (14–17): Sleep range 8–10 hours (before it was 8.5–9.5)
  • Younger adults (18–25): Sleep range is 7–9 hours
  • Adults (26–64): Sleep range is 7–9 hours
  • Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7–8 hours

Final goodnight thought

It’s interesting how something passive and often forgotten thing as sleep, is linked to so many things in our lives. A good diet and avoiding blue light before sleep can cause better sleep, which in turn can improve learning, our mental being and coping with stress. Sleep well.

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store