** Disclaimer *** I am well aware that Wikipedia is not the best source of information… but you know… it’s just.. there!
A very dear friend of mine just posted a comment on Facebook that has prompted me to write this “Thinking out loud” post about my sleeping habits, which is largely an excuse for exploring wikipedia and looking at pictures of cute sleeping kitties. Anyway, here’s what I wrote, and what my friend replied with:
Holiday-fatigue is something I regularly battle. I always have massive plans for what I can achieve with a long weekend or a week off, but by the time I’ve spent a day chilling out I’m in relaxed mode and never have the impetus to do any of it. People who do a full working week and still churn out side projects at a rate of knots in their evenings and weekends have both my envy and my awe.
However, my friend’s comment made me stop and think because she believes I’m suffering sleep deprivation – this isn’t something I recall ever having even hinted to her. Sure, getting up at 5:30 every morning to do a 2 hour commute means I live on the edge of getting enough sleep, but as far as I’m concerned this was something I adjusted to after about 2 months. The idea that it takes more than a few long sleeps to cancel out is also intriguing - so off I went to Wikipedia to read their article on Sleep Deprivation.
Apparently, your brain keeps a close account of how much sleep you owe it (that’s kinda freaky), and if you continue to accrue sleep debt (apparently that’s a thing) you eventually have to pay it back – sometimes your body will steal it back through unavoidable microsleeps or tiny naps (who hasn’t had one of those at their desk after a big lunch?!). By this point, I’ve fallen into a Wikipedia Trap so also had to read the article on the Hypnic Jerk (tee hee).
All this information on sleep is fascinating: apparently the falling dream that often accompanies a Hypnic Jerk is actually a hallucination (weird!) and also, apparently, you can determine just how sleep deprived you are by timing how long it takes you to fall asleep (or your “Sleep Latency“). Shockingly (to me at least) according to the sleep latency test, if you fall asleep in less than 15 minutes, you are suffering a level of sleep deprivation?!? It usually takes me 10-15 minutes if I’m comfy in my bed in a quiet, dark room, regardless of how tired I feel or how much sleep I have. Husband on the other hand struggles to sleep without a TV on – so am I not just a good go-to-sleep-er?
The average adult requires 8 hours sleep (watch it, that link is NOT from Wikipedia haha) so if I’m “the” average adult, and I get roughly 7.5 hours sleep a night, then each week I accrue a sleep debt of 2.5 hours. I usually also get at least one train-nap or lie in a week, gaining me back another 30 minutes and I always have a lie in (at least 10 hours) at the weekend. Therefore, if I’m “the” average adult – I sleep enough (although husband will tell you that I always used to be a 9 hours kinda gal).
I remember a conversation I had before I started my new job where I was saying I couldn’t remember the last time I didn’t feel like I could fall asleep if you just gave me a pillow and some peace and quiet (this is still true). Back then I put it down to the stresses of my old job because I was commuting 10 minutes and easily getting 9 hours sleep a night. Nowadays I’ve a spring in my step and a smile on my face – I might not sleep but I’m much less stressed!
All this is purely academic anyway. We’re all entirely different and have different needs. I’m certian that energy levels have as much to do with diet and levels of physical & mental exertion as they do your sleep debt. Who knows what we really know or understand about sleep? We know naff-all about dreams. Most adults I know complain of little other than the weather and feeling tired.
So there we go, my random Wikipedia & thought trail is over. I have a cup of coffee in hand and feel more awake than I did before I wrote this… so what about you? Got any weird sleep habits?!