Complexity Behind the Statement

Sleep Better with a Book.

I’m drawn to simple statements. I’m even more attracted to the complexity behind such statements.

This applies to a recent book I’m reading, Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker. I was not prepared for such a fascinating adventure.

To whet your appetite: Spain, long known for its afternoon siestas, abandoned this scheduled behaviour with the global financial pressures to be “more efficient.” As the result, 37 percent increased risk of death from heart disease.

In a small area in Greece, the island of Ikaria refused to stop the siesta pattern. It is perhaps unsurprising that men are nearly four times as likely to reach the age of ninety as males in the USA.

One more appetite whetter: I’ll pare down the research details in the book. Results found that folks who had a nap after trying to learn 100 facts compared to a control group who didn’t nap, improved their recall memory by 50 percent.

I’m very aware of the dangers of the idea that a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. I don’t want to run off and declare I have found the holy grail of sleep. I’m not going to turn my life, and perhaps that of my wife’s, upside down.

But, the ideas put forth are intriguing. The author is credible. He has a Ph.D., is a professor at UC Berkeley and the Director of its Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab. He has studied sleep for decades.

So don’t tell your family that your napping all hours of the day is OK. It isn’t that simple. But I think there is definitely something to this sleep research.

When I was Movin’ On from full-time employment about 3 years ago, I wanted to be awake later in the evenings to enjoy the nightlife. I set my bedtime at midnight, and my alarm for 8:00 am. It took a week or so to train my body to accept the new routine, and I have maintained that rhythm ever since. Everything I have read about sleep has supported the benefits of a routine bedtime.

The more scientists understand about sleep, the more they realize how profound and crucial components of sleep are to our health. REM sleep, the Rapid Eye Movement phase of sleep, has been known for a long time. But the importance of the NREM or Non-Rapid Eye Movement phase of sleep is not commonly appreciated.

If we get good NREM sleep, the quick short-term memory experiences seem to get moved from one part of our brain to another. It transfers from risky short-term memory to more stable long-term memory. And that’s a good thing.

Are you having trouble getting a rejuvenating sleep? Are you needing a nap before noon? If your sleep is not like the good old days, then before reaching for the sleeping pills, I encourage you to speak to your doctor. Talk with him or her about your sleep patterns, including having to get up and go to the washroom. A referral to a sleep clinic may change your life.

I’m curious about your thoughts. Please email me or leave your comment. I really do read every one.

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My thanks to St. Albert Seniors Association: 780-459-0433 for making this Blog possible.
Glenn Walmsley
Volunteer

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