Posted by: shellyweave | June 9, 2010

Frere Jacques, dormez-vous?

Shelly, that post was nothing but fitting for you. I feel very informed and I feel like I can say that I have more street-cred with this new knowledge. Is that possible? I am not sure how I will follow up the hilarity of what you told our small little public.

Seeing as weed is something that so greatly effects you because of your allergy (I don’t want anyone thinking we are running some deal or something) I figure that I will tell our readers, if there are any of you out there, about something I know and love. It also effects me but, not quite in the same way that the green leafy plant effects you. Sleep. Glorious sleep. If people don’t understand by now sleep is what keeps me alive. Understandably, it keeps everyone alive… but I feel as though sleep and I have a special connection–a partnership if you will. To me, sleep is a time to rest my mind; it is a time to get away from the world and finally have some rest after a long, tough or frankly just annoying day. Although it is a time of regeneration, it is so much more than that, sleep is what keeps us going.

On a more scientific level, sleep is a decrease in the ability to react and feel stimulus. It is the time when the body delves into a highly anabolic state where the systems of the body have time to regenerate and prepare for the next day. Sleeping suspends the motor and sensory skills leaving a sleeping being relatively motionless. All mammals experience and require sleep and sleep is necessary to keep the body going. Sleep, in mammals, occurs in two main states: the rapid eye movement and non-rapid eye movement states. In humans, the sleep cycle can last anywhere from 90 to 110 minutes and repeats itself multiple times throughout the night. During the first stage, the non-rapid eye movement state, or NREM, relatively little dreaming or activity in the brain occurs. The NREM state is broken into three levels, creatively named, N1, N2, and N3. During each state, the body falls more and more into a state of unconsciousness and general lack of awareness to the external world. Level N3 is the stage of the sleep cycle in which a person gets the most replenishing sleep. In other words, when  you sleep deeply, you have spent a lot of time in the N3 stage during the night.

After the three stages of the NREM states are completed, the body moves into the rapid eye movement, or REM, state. The REM state makes up around 25% of an adults sleeping time and is where the most memorable dreaming occurs. Muscular atonia, the extremely relaxed, almost paralyzed state, of the muscles and bones occurs during the REM state. At the completion of the REM state, your body might wake for the morning or move swiftly back into the N1 level of the NREM state.

This is my general knowledge of what actually occurs to your body while you sleep, but there is so much more than just what physically occurs. The average teen should sleep anywhere from 9-11 hours per night while adults only need 7-9 hours. A person spends around 1/3 of their lives sleeping. This is assuming a person spends, on average, 8 hours a day sleeping for the average American lifetime of around 74 years. This equates to around 194,821 hours of sleep out of a person’s 649,401 hours of life. That’s a lot of sleeping.

Although  there is so much that we do scientifically know about sleep, the effects that sleep has on the body and its results, dreams, have little known about them in the scientific world. There is still so much to learn. Today, psychologists, dream interpreters and other doctors preform many studies in the field work of dreams in attempts to gain knowledge about what makes a dream, if dreams hold importance in our every day lives as well as why we as sleepers physically dream. Sigmund Frued, a leading Austrian neurologist and psychiatrist in his time,  believed dreams to be the expression of frustrated desires that emerge in the unconscious and subconscious minds through the use of symbols and metaphors. Frued studied dreams and dealt with the mere psychological role they play in a person’s sleeping pattern. He believed that dreams held importance and showed meaning in a person’s life. Further, this lead him to publish a book The Interpretation of Dreams that spoke purely on the unconscious mind and how the feelings and thoughts of the day provoke the dreams we experience. Scientists on a more modern scale, speculate that dreams are caused by the random firing of neurons in the cerebral cortex. Then, according to the activation synthesis theory, the front lobes of the brain try to make sense of the nonsensical sensory images being fired at it and thus, dreams are created. So whether dreams are metaphors of repressed feelings and a way to make sense of emotions throughout the day that are stored in our subconscious minds or a purely scientific and step-by-step process that any mammal experiences, dreams are a large part of the sleeping world.

Although sleep can bring about such beautiful feelings for people like you and I, Shelly, some people are not so lucky. Countless numbers of disorders and diseases come about through sleep making it an unpleasant experience. Some of the most commonly known sleep afflictions are:

Insomnia– the lack of the ability to fall asleep or stay asleep

Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS)– the lack of the ability to fall asleep at a socially acceptable hour

Night Terrors– the act of awakening from sleep in constant terror with virtually no way  to be consoled (as you know Shelly, I dealt with a pretty big fit of the night terrors while I was a youngster).

Sleep Apnea– the blockage of the airways during a persons sleep which can lead to severe snoring and possibly the total cut off of air circulation

Some of the more comical disorders that can result during sleep are:

Sleepwalking– the engagement of activities a person usually does while awake ( this falls under the Parasomnias category).

Enuresis/Nocturia– bed wetting/ the need to get up and urinate constantly throughout the night

Somniphobia– the fear of sleep

Narcolepsy– day time sleeping in which a person can fall asleep unwillingly and randomly

Rapid Eye Movement Behavior Disorder– the act of a person violently and abrasively acting out dreams throughout the night

So there. I think that is all I have to say on the matter of sleep. I promised that I would be more into my blog posts and well, a promise is a promise. This has been one of the lengthiest posts I have ever done, but when it comes to the matter of sleep, no amount of words is enough. Shelly, I think, as for right now, I have found my college calling. I would like to do something in the study of sleep. Possibly psychology, which I have been interested in before but with no sound reason, or maybe dream interpretation. I could see me as some crazy hippie-esque type woman in an incense  filled room luring in customers to listen to my crazy rantings. I mean, if I can type up a small novel on sleep and not fall asleep, then surely there is promise for me in this field.

I as well hope that I have some how educated the public in the area of sleep and maybe, possibly, said something new. I highly doubt that but, at the very least I have saved the world from having to go to Wikipedia and learn about all this stuff. I have done the research for them.

Following in the tradition of your title, I too have used a song… but a little less “I am a crazy hip-hop wannabe” song and more of a “Sugar and spice and everything nice” song. But I guess that reflects our relationship a bit Shelly. You bring the funk and pizazz and I bring the more level headed approach. I am glad it is that way though.

So, now that this mini novel is complete, I can finally do what I do best– sleep.

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