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It’s time for a nap

on Wednesday, 08 August 2018. Posted in Editorials, Articles

by Philip James Maenza III, Editor, The News Journal

I remember when I was a little kid that I hated whenever my mom made me take a nap. I would fuss and whine because I would have rather continued to play rather than sleep. When I was little I thought that bedtimes were unfair. I would always try to find an excuse to stay up later than I was allowed. Now that I am an adult I value the time that I get to sleep a lot more. Even as I am writing all I can think about is the warm embrace of my bed.


I started thinking about sleep so I did a little research. The record for the longest period without sleep is 11 days. This was set by a California student named Randy Gardner in 1964. This is definitely not recommended, however, as Randy experienced extreme sleep deprivation and others have died staying awake for this long. Sleep deprivation will kill you more quickly than food deprivation. Neither are good for you, obviously, but there are claims that sleep is actually more important than food in the short term. As it turns out a person’s pain tolerance is reduced by sleep deprivation. It is suggested that cutting a person’s sleep in half dramatically reduces pain threshold although it’s not 100% clear why. Ideally, falling asleep at night should take you 10-15 minutes, however, if it takes you less than five minutes, chances are you are sleep deprived. Did you know that humans are the only mammals that willingly delay sleep? I bet it must be nice to just sleep whenever and wherever you want.


I even learned some fun facts about animal’s sleeping habits. For example, two-thirds of a cat’s life is spent asleep. From personal experience with two cats of my own, I can attest to cats always loving their sleep. Some more animal-related sleeping habits are that a giraffe only needs 1.9 hours of sleep a day, whereas a brown bat needs 19.9 hours a day. I know some days I wish I could sleep for 19.9 hours.


My research also led me to some fun facts about sleep. For example, before color television was introduced, only 15% of people dreamt in color. In fact, some older people dream in black and white more often than younger people. It’s not uncommon for deaf people to use sign language in their sleep. There are many instances where people have reported their deaf partners or children using sign language in their sleep. According to my research, those born blind experience dreams involving things such as emotion, sound, and smell rather than sight. The timing of the blindness in a person’s life may impact what that person dreams about. It’s thought that up to 15% of the population are sleepwalkers. This is according to the National Sleep Foundation. Apparently, it’s also a myth that you shouldn’t wake someone who is sleepwalking.


I hope that my article did not put you to sleep. Although considering all that we have learned about sleep, maybe that would not be such a bad thing! Regardless, sleep is important.


References:
Thomson, C. (2017, March 10). 22 Interesting Facts You Didn't Know About Sleep. Retrieved August 3, 2018, from https://www.dreams.co.uk/sleep-matters-club/25-facts-about-sleep/

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