“I can sleep when I die” I hear the teenager who is years away from death say determined to not go to bed, I felt the same at her age, in all honesty, the distractions weren’t the same though. Unlike the mobile computer phone device or tablet which gives access to a whole world of information for today’s generation, I had a tiny little battery driven radio small enough to go into my hand, which would catch the signal of Luxembourg Radio playing in the one-eared headphone, we didn’t get two back then. John Peel once a week rocked my world where I would be lay under the covers listening hoping my mother never noticed me falling asleep to what was a mixture of the DJ talking, buzzing noises then losing the signal, scrolling the wheel of the tuner to find the station again, to more buzzing, finding the music playing and then more talking. I would fall asleep with it in my ears, or in earlier years pushing the bottom of the upper bunk of my sisters bed up and annoying her. Sleep wasn’t something we wanted to do at all and we didn’t have anywhere near the number of distractions to keep us awake. I would wake up to find the radio still buzzing in the morning and the earphone wire wrapped around my neck probably not as serious as it sounds, but of course, it felt like living on the edge under the age of 10.
In the morning though it’s a different kettle of fish, getting the said teenager out of the bed she didn’t want to go to is like removing a limpet from a rock. 2 hours after the first call for action we may be seeing life. I wasn’t any different if I remember rightly my father once put 2 alarm clocks outside the bedroom door to get me up, he ended up coming in to shout about me not turning them off and how they had woken him up instead.
On rising out of the ‘pit’ and coming downstairs, he would shout the “Wreck of the Esprey is up”, I had no idea what he meant by that until in later years I realised it really was a ballad by Henry Wadsworth called The Wreck of the Hesperus.
Maybe the teenagers know a thing or two though, the Ancient Egyptians both respected and feared sleep, they believed it was a state close to death and that their dreams carried messages from the gods. There is a study into B6 and how it aids dream recall, and increases how vivid your dreams may be. The deeper we sleep also aids us remaining in REM time longer which are when our dreams occur, this is why when we introduce B vitamins and magnesium into the supplement routine it can mean that suddenly we start to not only dream but also have a recall of them.
Our sleep patterns have changed over the past 100 years, since the electric light bulb it has meant we are able to spend increasing time awake. Professor Ekirch says how sleeping before the Industrial Revolution tended to be in 2, 4-hour phases, unlike our hopefully 8-hour stretch. It’s been shown that those people who still live in tribes spend part of their night awake. This is because they have at least part of their tribe awake throughout their night time, on vigilance, effectively acting as watchdogs. The group behaviour with sleeping was a key part of survival, the group needed deep sleep but also the security to be able to do that, so part of the group would stay awake at intervals throughout the night. Modern living has altered this, well that depends on where you live, but most of us sleep soundly in our beds safe in the knowledge that our house is our castle. Mostly over the years though our sleeping has reduced to what is now on average 6.5 hours inadequate for most people’s true needs. Our sleeping times and arrangements are ever changing his book finds.
With the social media gossip that the Trumps don’t sleep in the same bed together, in fact, they don’t seem to even sleep in the same city together, and if the conspiracies are to be believed that may not even be Melania Trump stood next to him in those shades! But we know from history that at one time whole families would have shared the same bed. Research now shows that 60% of couples tend to sleep in separate beds or bedrooms. Snoring being just one reason for this, sleeping next to a human lawn mower isn’t much fun and it’s clear that those who do part ways at bedtime find themselves far better refreshed with a better nights sleep than those who share. Why does this matter well researchers from Karolinska Institute in Stockholm found that those who were sleep deprived for just 2 days were less desirable, the way we look matters because the more unhealthy we look the more diseased we would be considered to be, and we all naturally want to avoid disease.
Neurologists at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine found that those with an increased sense of purpose tended to fall and stay asleep more easily. This is interesting because we often see those who have depression staying up longer and longer at night, unable to sleep, and in many pieces of research fulfillment of life and a restful nights sleep correlate with those experiencing the least disruption happening during their sleep.
In several pieces of research, it’s been shown that those living a more purposeful life, tended to make better lifestyle and health choices, doing more things recreationally, and tended to have fewer diseases and sleep complaints.
We aren’t the only ones who love our sleep, the Cassiopea jellyfish does too and it was found that if it didn’t get enough sleep it was groggy and listless the next day, sound familiar? This was an important finding because even those that are brainless it’s found need their sleep, but this research did have the benefit of proving that sleep had an important function.
In the Victorian era the changes in sleep were blamed on the telegraph and the trains, now it’s our mobile devices, it’s likely that our society will always have some form of distraction to blame for our ever-changing sleeping habits.