Not all are morning persons, including yours truly. Also I have no special reasons to wake up very early excepting on the Sundays only to show I am still ticking as a retired guy. Though not an expert, I can still tell a thing or two about sleep that of course include some checkable hearsay. I carry a current account in my ‘sleep bank’ showing overdrafts on many days in a month. Technically it is called sleep backlogs, which I hope will square up one day or other in the near future.
Sleep backlog happens over time when I am short of sleep for a couple of nights at a stretch. I wondered how much sleep does a normal person requires. I learnt that it is between 6 and 8 hours during the night (Daytime for those doing the night shift). Will it not amount to half of our lifetime excluding travel time of course?
I remember my wife complaining to my mother long ago, your son sleeps like a baby. I also read that babies, by 12 months of age, sleep from 12 to 14 hours a day and like adults they too pass through about 5 REM cycles and in fact dream more. Talking of sound sleep, I saw one Kumbhakarna guy sleeping right through his wedding, like a log, with the band blaring in high octave. On the other hand, I found a good number of the elderly persons unable to do their full quota of shuteye. Ironically, they needed sleep badly—but unfortunately most of them have a need to get up and visit restroom more frequently.
To me it is an eternal enigma why we sleep at all. I thought maybe it was a habit acquired over millions of years before fire is discovered to give light the nights. But I cannot agree more that sleep is a must. It lets our internal organs get repaired and overhauled duly getting rid of the dead cells and toxins. It is also the time when our system is rested at a minimal capacity including our blood pressure as I understand as a layman. Sleep reminds me of the cleaning ritual taken up after a show in theatres. Some people sleep with pillows stacked high under their head while some do without them. However, my doctor advised me to fold a small thin towel into a ball, and keep it under the neck before going to bed. That way, he said, I would not be getting spondylitis. I did that most times and sometimes I pushed it away also in my sleep.
A knowledgeable friend advised me to lie on to my left side while sleeping, so that my stomach would find it easier to empty its contents into the intestines, in line with the gravitational pull - helping food in the process of its digestion from stomach to duodenum. That sounded unpleasant, but I guessed it must be a thumb rule to those with Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD). Reportedly on bed, I did many a circumnavigation one night, not knowing where my left hand side was, to finally settle into that posture. If had time for my daily siestas (afternoon nap), the latter would work wonders to keep my brain in the top gear even in the evenings. A catnap in the office sounded so tempting when I was working.
In some offices, I heard, they allow their staff to sleep after they had their lunch. It is only a ploy to increase productivity. I saw some doze off in their chairs with eyes wide open. It must be a practiced art, definitely. They seem to be staring at the monitors, reading or scribbling in their notebooks at the meetings only in their sleep state. According to a finding most motor car accidents happened when the drivers had no sleep and suffered from sleep backlog. In that condition it is usual for anyone to get a momentary lapse of consciousness (to catch just forty winks!) during when they are into accidents. It is a well settled finding that our brain has memory for the missed sleep and it will surely compensate the same in some near future to avenge body’s sleep loss.
In the Ramayana, Lakshamana, the younger brother of Rama is said to have gone for a long sleep after completing 14 years of statelessness and sleeplessness, whereas his wife Urmila had slept waiting for dear husband in the state. One more thing about dreams I can recount. There is a phase in our sleep called Rapid Eye Moment. (Reminds my youth when I looked at girls in that REM way while awake.)
Another query I came across: whether people really dream in colors or just in black and white. It seemed it is also a settled matter that we see events in our dreams in multicolor (Is it after the entry of color TV, don’t know). With regard to the early morning dreams, most are found to be sweet dreams. We get dreams in our REM rounds, but only could remember vividly the last REM round just before we wake up. Those who are hooked to the bottle may wake up either too sooner or too late and look surprised to find their own gaunt faces staring back in bathroom mirrors like a bad dream. That state is due to lack of normal sleep cycles including normal Rapid Eye Movement phase in drunken sleep. Less coffee and no alcohol is one sure way to sleep soundly with care abandoned and jaw dropped, getting better Zzzs.