July 25, 2010

I’m a man who loves his sleep, and although I usually get a normal amount of it I’ve always known my sleep patterns to be off-track from the standard hours.

The “normal” human sleep schedule is to wake up when the sun rises and to go to sleep when the sun sets. Now, in the middle of summer, that would mean waking up at 5am and going to bed at 9pm. 8 hours of sleep. My sleep schedule, when devoid of work responsibilities, is to wake up at 10 or 11am and go to sleep at 2 or 3am. Also 8 hours. Seems logical enough. But why is mine so consistently off by 5 hours from what should be my biological programming?

One extremely interesting and disturbing fact I learned in Psychology 100 was the fact that there is a discrepancy between the hours in the day and the hours in which a human being is designed to function. There are 24 hours in a day, so I always assumed that after billions of years of evolution homo sapiens would have evolved to fit their sleep patterns with the periods of sunlight available to them. This however is not the case. Humans in fact have a sleep cycle of approximately 25 hours.

When my professor said this in class I had one of those “THAT EXPLAINS EVERYTHING” moments where your whole world instantly makes sense. This gives reason to why people often have to discipline themselves to go to sleep; if you follow your own sleep schedule religiously you would wake up (and go to sleep) one hour later each day. This means that to adhere to a 24-hour time table you must go to sleep one hour before you are completely prepared to sleep. While this would have been a welcome trait for Neanderthals, being able to remain alert longer, it’s the main factor that causes people my age to stay up for whatever reasons, resulting in waking up late, resulting in going to sleep super late, resulting in waking up super late, etc. It’s a vicious cycle. A vicious 25-hour cycle stuck inside a 24-hour cycle that occurs every single day of our lives.

What other reason would I have for blogging at 3:20am? None, I say.


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