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The Science of Sweet Slumber

It wasn’t too long ago that I would have done just about anything to get a good night’s sleep. Seriously.

I can’t remember any period of my life when I felt so exhausted and out of sorts. And, the worst part was I saw no end in sight.

Every single night, I’d get ready for bed, eye my comfortable mattress with affection, position my favorite pillow just so, and pull back the blankets…then just stand there. Internally, as much as I longed for sleep, I knew I wasn’t going to get much of it during the night.

It became a battle of the wills to lay down and try to sleep.

Eventually, after more battle of the wills, I stepped back and decided I needed something to help me sleep better, sounder, longer…and it wasn’t sleeping pills.

I finally opted for a short-stint on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and of course, this was yet another concession I had to make in my muddled mind because I always swore I would never go on this “stuff.”

I guess I can just add this choice to the long list of “nevers” I’ve already had to eat my words on in the past few years…aging does some mighty strange things to us.

Back to the sleep issue. Thankfully, within days I was sleeping again. AMAZING. I felt like a new woman inside and out…and when bedtime arrived I wasn’t hem hawing around anymore, I jumped into bed pulled the blankets up to my neck and drifted into sweet slumber.

I can tell you firsthand that when you’re not sleeping (for whatever reason)…you lose your ability to reason well.

It’s an awful reality to know that sleep is just beyond your grasp…and so allusive, but oh so needed for good health (mental/emotional/physical.)

Which is why when I ran across this book by author David K. Randall, Dreamland: Adventures in the Strange Science of Sleep, I was intrigued.

A few of the stranger facts this author uncovered regarding sleep include this one. Did you know that before we had electricity that people went to bed when it got dark, stayed asleep until about midnight, then got up for about an hour before going back to sleep for the rest of the night? They call it the first and second sleep. Since none of us lives without artificial light, they tested this pattern on a group of individuals over a period of weeks and no kidding, after awhile the test participants began adopting this strange nocturnal habit. Interesting.

As the book’s subtitle suggests, there is so much scientists don’t know or understand about how the brain works during slumber but they’re watching and observing through sleep studies which is a good thing since one out of four people now uses sleep aids at night. Some people sleepwalk, sleep and drive, sleep and eat, or sleep and get violent.

If you’re interested in the study of sleep, this is a fascinating look at the science of sleep…and guaranteed…the reading won’t put you to sleep once you get started. Maybe that last part isn’t such a good thing for the sleep-deprived among us?

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One thought on “The Science of Sweet Slumber

  1. I was thinking about sleep just last night (no pun intended). I really was. Prior to leaving for Costa Rica, where I am now and will be for the next 2 months, I was not sleeping well. I wanted to do everything as much as possible. As a consequence, I was burning myself out. That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Sleep is necessary. It got to the point when I was having one of those God-knocks-on-my-mental-door moments and I kept coming across articles that stressed the importance of rest for people in leadership. Yeah, I might have been getting things done but at what cost? That is the matter.

    I think the mind and the needs of a human being all around are fascinating. It is interesting to think about the way we all function and were designed.

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