“You need to get eight hours of sleep!”
When I was growing up, I heard this preached to me by my parents, teachers, and pediatrician. Recent research has provided intriguing insight. It is both the quantity and quality of the sleep that gives us rest. Most are familiar with the term REM sleep, the acronym for rapid eye movement, the period of sleep when we dream. There are actually three main stages of sleep.
Some researchers further subdivide deep sleep into two stages, depending upon the type of brain wave activity. Many researchers have averred that it is the deep sleep stage that provides the greatest feeling of well-restedness. During this stage, the body is at its maximal ability to repair and regenerate and in memory consolidation. REM sleep is also important in memory consolidation and occurs at the end of deep sleep.
I have often wondered if it was possible to maximize the time I spend in deep sleep at the expense of total sleep. In other words, could one enhance the quality of sleep to substitute for the quantity of sleep? The quick answer is that for one to enter into deep sleep requires at least one hour or more. Thus the objective should be to quickly enter and stay in deep sleep for as long as possible. Sounds simple, right? Unfortunately, as we age, the time we spend in deep sleep progressively decreases. Even if one eliminates activities and substances that may affect deep sleep, like caffeine, alcohol, taking naps during the day, and high carbohydrate diets, we can do little to ward off the effects of aging. Needless to say, I have been experiencing trouble sleeping for the past several years. Nearly all of the remedies that have been touted, I have used with marginal success. On the occasional mornings when I awaken refreshed and well-rested, I note that I still awoke several times during the evening and did not have any increased total sleep time. The next logical step will be to undertake a formal sleep study and quantitatively document the time I spend in deep sleep.
When I was younger, I used to joke with my wife over how long it would take before my father would begin talking about his health ailments. During one visit, we were together for 90 seconds before the inevitable discussion began! In fact, his ailments dominated the conversation and visit. Now I find myself in the same position, complaining to my friends and family about various health ailments like sleep deprivation.
We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing. For we will put on heavenly bodies; we will not be spirits without bodies. While we live in these earthly bodies, we groan and sigh, but it’s not that we want to die and get rid of these bodies that clothe us. Rather, we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life.
2 Corinthians 5:2-5 (NLT)
I do look forward to the day when I and all believers in Jesus Christ will be given a new heavenly body, free of all physical ailments. Until then, my family and friends must continue to excuse my groaning and roll their eyes, just like I did when my father was the age I am now.
Good night! I hope so!
Love and trust in the Lord; seek His will in your life.