Timm Ringhofer's May Utne

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Journey to the Center of Sleep by Bill Hayes, January-February 1999, pp. 68-72.

Why I found this article thought provoking.

Timm Ringhofer

Sleep, what each and every person hopes to get a lot of and no one every gets sick of doing. At least this is the way that I see it.

Insomnia is something that affects many people and remedies to get to sleep range from what mom said to the bizarre. Warm milk, frisky sex, whiffing dirty sock, and sleeping pills are remedies listed in the article. Sleeping pills force the body into unconsciousness, but the body knows when it is being forced to do something that it doesnt want to do. The next day, one knows that they have slept but it sure doesnt feel like it.

Sleep scientist spend their waking hours engaged in surveillance of those of us who can and cannot sleep. They treat disorders such as narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, African sleeping sickness, fatal familial insomnia, and just plain old insomnia. During the 19th century, scientist believed that sleep was caused by mysterious toxins in the blood. Thism hypotoxin theory suggested that fatigue was a poisonous substance that built up over the day, finally causing sleep, when the poison was eliminated.

During the 1920s, Nathaniel Kleitma who is considered the dean of sleep research, studied the effects of sleep deprivation, disproving the hypotoxin theory. His research led to two basic conclusions. First, people who stayed up all night were more awake in the morning then in the middle of the night. Second, after being awake for 60 hours, the ill effects of the sleeplessness appeared to level off. Kleitman also foung with the help of B. H. Richardson that people could adapt to a 28-hour day where they stayed awake for 19 hours and slept for 9 hours. However, when brought back to a 24 hour day, they once again adapted to the environment. I believe that this means that people can adapt to different sleep patterns if forced to by circumstances.

I would like to finish this paper with a few facts on sleep. Average daily hours of sleep for Americans: 7.5 Average daily hours of sleep for American cats: 15 Percent who consider sleep a necessity: 66 Percent who always get a restful nights sleep: 25 Percent who sleep on their back: 14 Percent who sleep on their stomach: 25 Percent who sleep with two pillows: 42.6 Percent of men who snore: 36 Percent of women who snore: 23

-- Anonymous, May 27, 1999

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