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Thursday, 2 June 2016

Sleep management vs time management

There is an unexpected book in the NY Times list of bestselling non-fiction books: The Sleep Revolution by Arianna Huffington. After decades of focusing how to improve our time management, sleep management finally also gets attention - although not yet in Wikipedia.

This topic caught my attention as my sleeping pattern has been distorted again for several days now. Late night chats, an allergy for cat hairs (WebMD), and flashes of Dexter during my sleep are amongst the culprits. Since a year or so, I stopped drinking 2 double espressos at 8PM and that resulted in an immediate improvement of my sleep around 11PM. Forgetting to open a window at night is a guarantee for a headache the next morning, even during wintertime.

It is quite remarkable how little we know about sleep, and also how little we care about our sleep. Often people treat sleep as an idle activity of which its time spent should be minimised, eg Bon Jovi's I'll sleep when I'm dead (lyricsvideo). On the other hand, we try to maximise our activities during daytime and don't mind cutting back on our sleep in order to realise this.

Actually, I was surprised about reading why we sleep. In 2012, a team of researchers at the University of Rochester Medical Center (URMC) discovered that the brain possesses its own unique waste removal system, dubbed the glymphatic system. A follow-up "2013 Science study revealed that the glymphatic system is highly active during sleep, clearing away toxins responsible for Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological disorders. Furthermore, the researchers found that during sleep the brain’s cells reduce in size, allowing waste to be removed more effectively" (URMC).

Economist, 2015: "Electric lighting, television, the internet and caffeine all get blamed for reducing the amount of time people sleep compared with the days before such luxuries existed. Such alleged sleep deprivation is sometimes held responsible for a rise of obesity, mood disorders and other modern ailments. The trouble with this argument, though, is that no one really knows how long people slept before coffee and light bulbs existed".

"A study just published in Current Biology by Jerome Siegel of the University of California, Los Angeles and Gandhi Yetish of the University of New Mexico tries to provide an answer. Dr Siegel and Mr Yetish looked at three groups who cleave to pre-industrial (indeed, pre-agricultural) ways of life, to see if their sleep patterns differ from those of wired, urban humanity. To some surprise, they have found that in many ways they do not". (Economist, 2015)

BBC Future, May 2016: "The Japanese don’t sleep. This is what everyone – the Japanese above all – say. It’s not true, of course. But as a cultural and sociological statement, it is very interesting. [] The positive image of the worker bee, who cuts back on sleep at night and frowns on sleeping late in the morning, seemed to be accompanied by an extensive tolerance of so-called ‘inemuri’ – napping on public transportation and during work meetings, classes and lectures. Women, men and children apparently had little inhibition about falling asleep when and wherever they felt like doing so". 

The message in Arianna Huffington's 2016 book is basically a modern version of Benjamin Franklin's saying in 1735: "Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy wealthy and wise".

The Eagles - Earlybird (1972) - artists, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

Early in the morning 
about the break of day 
the earlybird is working 
so his life don't fade away 
spends his life denying that 
he's got no time for flying 
in the breeze 
High up on his own, the eagle flies alone 
and he is free 
Earlybird is scratching though 
the going's getting tough 
time is passing by him and he just 
can't get enough 
He'll tell you all is well when 
all is really going wrong 
the Earlybird will wake one day 
and find his life is gone 
You know I like to lay in bed 
and sleep out in the sun 
Reading books and playing crazy music 
just for fun 
You know it makes feel so fine 
and puts my mind at ease to 
know that I don't harm a soul 
in doing what I please 
aaahhhh, ahhhh , ahhhhh ahhh..... 
Any old day you say, 
ain't gonna fade away 
any old day you say, 
ain't gonna fade away


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