- The subject matter is bound to evoke mixed emotions among the people who might have experienced firsthand the yet-to-be-solved mystery of how much sleep is sufficient or insufficient. Since times immemorial, people have been grappling with the subject matter and there are innumerable theories, suggestions, reports, and expert opinions as to what amounts to proper hours of sleep. Is it 9 hours, 8 hours, 7 hours, or for that matter 6 hours? Despite making unprecedented technological advancements over the millennium, humankind has yet to arrive at a solid understanding of the number of hours of sleep that would be healthy for us. How about mentioning whenever one feels fresh after uninterrupted sleep even if it’s 5 hours is sufficient?
- Indeed, the present-day world is fast-paced, pressure-filled, and running against time to win that ubiquitous race to stay relevant in commensurate with the fast-evolving day-to-day occurrences. Sleep is a global obsession and it’s now recognized as one of the central elements of our well-being. Of course, it’s also a huge source of collective anxiety; fewer than half of the adults surveyed worldwide feel that they get enough shuteye. Consequently, the sleep economy, including supplements, diagnostics, consumer devices, and apps is set to touch $585 billion by 2024. Note that sleep has been underestimated for centuries. It was the Industrial Revolution that provoked interest in the human body and its limits. Let’s see the challenges and how we overcame them.
- Moreover, artificial lighting created the new problem of insomnia as humans unhitched themselves from the natural rhythms of dawn and dusk. Later it was discovered everything from the body clock to sleep stages, from the dreaming mind to sleep deficits. Then granular analyses of sleep rhythms, how these interact with the body’s other cycles, and how variables in daytime behavior affect sleep and are affected by it. Electroencephalograms or EEGs ensued connecting electrodes to the scalp to measure brain wave activity. The science of sleep was truly progressing on desired lines leading to the discovery of eyeball movement, realizing that within each cycle of sleep, there was a 20-minute period where the eyes stopped moving.
- Interesting studies indeed. Yes, the rapid eye movement (REM) phase was connected to vivid dream recollection. Subsequent studies led to the discovery of disorders like narcolepsy, sleep apnea, sleepwalking nocturnal myoclonus, daytime drowsiness, etc. These studies proved that sleep deprivation leads to low productivity and accidents. In time, scientists devised sleep medications based on their understanding of differential sleep requirements – yes, teens do need a lie-in, and there are morning people and night people. So, what’s a good night’s sleep? Steady exercise helps, strenuous or occasional exercise does not. Alcohol and caffeine effects. Sleep only as much as it takes to feel refreshed. It could be 5,6,7, 8, or 9 hours. It’s up to you!