My Sleep Obsession

Dear P,

We were the perfect travel buddies on our adventures this summer. When you got hungry, you got grumpy, whereas my Achilles’ heel involves sleep. As long as we could stay either well-fed or well-rested, we were fine.

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(Including this Snickers ad because it blew my mind. Snickers has some rocking advertisements.)

My inability to deal with lack of sleep has been haunting me in college. Our university campuses are suffering from a pandemic of chronic sleep deprivation, and sleep deprivation is just not my thing. Sleep and all its implications have become intensely interesting, especially as I’ve seen less of it in my life.

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Our sleep works in ninety minute intervals, cycling through stage one, two, three, and then REM sleep. In the first four hours, we spend more time in stage three sleep -“deep sleep”- and less time in REM sleep. Stages one through three relax our muscles and make our bodies feel well-rested, but the true magic happens in REM sleep.

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During REM sleep, your entire body is seized with paralysis. Your eyes, however, race around in a semblance of waking life: “REM” stands for “Rapid Eye Movement’. Even if you think of yourself as a non-dreamer, if you were awoken during this stage of sleep you would probably report vivid, fantastic dreams. REM sleep is supposedly when you consolidate all of your memories and thoughts from your waking life. Alcohol and sleep aids suppress REM sleep, and if you are suffering from a lack of REM sleep you will immediately slide into it when you fall asleep.

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Narcoleptics are the other group of people who fall instantly into REM sleep. People who suffer from narcolepsy have a hard time regulating their sleep cycles and often fall asleep at inappropriate times during the day. One of the things that sets off their snooze button is high emotional stress. Someone should make a soap opera about a person with narcolepsy. Every time a scene started getting good, they would just pass out.

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If you think this is interesting, you may want to check out the Sleep Cycle app on your iPhone. I usually refuse to buy apps because I think all the best things in life are free, but I am absolutely obsessed with this app and I don’t regret buying it.

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Sleep theory is so interesting: there are still so many mysteries surrounding why we sleep and how we can sleep better. We’ve talked about lucid dreaming before on this blog, and it is becoming more and more recognized as a way of treating phobias and improving memories. Everyone needs a different amount of sleep. I’m starting to think I needs to average out at about ten hours, whereas right now I’m getting about seven-and-a-half. When I get enough sleep, I have a good day. When I don’t get enough sleep, I feel like the grumpy Snickers man.

If you’re looking for ways to fall asleep better, yoga and meditation have helped me immensely. Tea also helps. I can’t read in my bed or I won’t be able to sleep there (I know this doesn’t apply to you at all, P. You do everything in your bed.).

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To conquer the sleep crises that my friends and I face every day, we will have to overcome the current social stigmas that come with sleep, perpetuated by ads like the one above. People take a weird kind of pride in not having time to sleep, to the point where they brag about it. Not sleeping is stupid. If you don’t sleep enough, you aren’t productive and life becomes significantly less fun.

Sweet dreams!

E

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2 thoughts on “My Sleep Obsession

  1. Good thoughts/ You’ve probably also heard:” There will be plenty of time to sleep when you;re dead,: ( Eye-roll). Humansareweird has a post on that one, you might enjoy it?

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