The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sleep as “the natural periodic suspension of consciousness during which the powers of the body are restored”.
How correct ?
Our sleep is similar to the “hibernation” of our laptop PC. Kind of suspended activity.
Most of us underestimate the importance of sleep. Many of my friends have claimed at one time or the other that they had no time for a long, good sleep and they could survive with as little as 4 hours of sleep.
Sounds great sometimes, sounds like the person had more to accomplish than the rest of us. Many things to do and deliver in life, compared to others. Sometimes it does look like it, especially when the person hearing such comments actually sleeps well every night !
There are two aspects under scrutiny here – the first one is a person’s “availability” : he is so busy that he could postpone or reduce the length of his sleep on a continuous basis, and nothing much happens to him (apparently) ; the second one is the “sleep time” itself, when such a person actually hits the bed, how long he does sleep ?
The first point is sometimes an excuse. Even if it were not an excusable excuse, there is no point in postponing sleep as it would have to be eventually given respect. Otherwise one’s faculties might drop in strength ! A person could hit a partial hibernation during which his consciousness is getting over-ruled by his bio-rhythmic demand. Our bodies are not machines, though the sci-fi movies would have us believe otherwise.
The second point is the length of the sleep and whether a short nap in the prime night time is adequate for the body to recharge itself. While catnapping is fine during the afternoon or any time for that matter (called “power napping”), the primary sleep time cannot be reduced to such an extent that the body actually rebels against you. It is estimated that between 6 and 7 hours of sleep every night is almost mandatory. If one sleeps for less duration, in all probability, he or she will put on some extra weight (which should be a strong demotivator for reduced length of sleep).
The key point here is also the consistency of sleep. Variable sleep patterns are not good at all. Occasionally yes, one could go partying once a week or once a month and the body could take the abuse. But not on a continuous basis. The body will break down eventually. Also, the body prefers to go to sleep at around the same time every night – say 10:30 or 11:00 PM every night. If we vary this time randomly, even if we sleep well thereafter, the practice as such is not a good idea. Many a time, there might be good shows on the TV, or we are doing something on email or a PowerPoint exercise, etc., and we do not keep watch of time. We wish to complete the work at any cost (cost to our health !). That would be fine occasionally, but not every night.
So, it is critical to sleep at around the same time every night, and to sleep for almost the same duration every night. Postponing sleep and sleeping for less time based on other demands are not good at all to our body.
If we do not follow this practice, we are going to be hit with lifestyle diseases. That would really be a big hit.
Further, sleeping well ensures that we have a productive day, which is important for our life and business.
So, sleep well folks !
2nd January 2011