Science of Sleep

We sleep for over twenty years in our lifetimes.  We take sleep for granted in our lifestyle.  Most of us do not have to work eighty plus hours of week.  We can sleep in on the weekends.  On average we get at least six hours of sleep each night.  Learning about the science behind sleep can help us understand and appreciate sleep, but more importantly for something so benign, it is very interesting.

Sleep is very important to our health.  If we sleep less than five hours a night on average, we tend to feel hungrier and gain weight over time.  Also a lack of sleep makes us less tolerant to pain.  There is a disturbance in our pain signaling and our sensitivity to pain increases.  New parents also need a little break at times, due to the added stress on their bodies from lack of sleep. A new born baby results in 400-750 hours of lost sleep in the first year.

Your brain never stops working during sleep.  Twelve percent of people dream in black and white.  Also, we can only dream about faces we have already seen.  As humans we may toss and turn in our sleep, but what about sea mammals that are in the water but need air to breathe while they sleep.  Whales and dolphins have a special ability in which they can fall half asleep.  Their brains take turns, so they can take continue surfacing to breathe.

In this country we have many people that have sleep problems.  The average person wakes up six times every night. More than 35 million prescriptions for sleep aids are written each year.  Trouble sleeping relates to stress that we have in our lives.  Think about when we have an important project or test coming up, we have difficulty sleeping the night before.  In order to help us sleep we have to be either very tired or think peaceful thoughts.   Our sleep cycle is connected to temperature, and therefore we cannot sleep in hot environments if we are not used to it.  

Sleep is very important for our functionality.  It keeps our stress leveled and keeps our body rested.  Getting plenty of sleep every night promotes productivity and keeps us focused.  Although sleep does not seem that important, without it, everything else in our lives can be thrown out of balance.