Thursday, September 06, 2012

Hope and sleep

Sometimes I think the reason we humans require sleep is not so much that we need rest but because that delineates time into distinct parts (i.e., days). Why does that matter? It facilitates the delusion necessary for existence: that tomorrow could be better than today.

Experience instructs us that some tomorrows will be better (even if only by relative standards) and many will not, but we require that period of unconsciousness to give us the opportunity to awaken and feel like there's some greater chance for change than there was at the end of the day before. Also, going to sleep provides that conclusion to a day that, whether it was good or not-so-good day, needs to conclude; any good day that drags on longer than it should turns, and any bad day isn't worth staying awake to wait for it to improve.

Maybe tomorrow we'll get up and break our procrastination (but we probably won't), the world's problem will start to be resolved (but they probably won't), and that which keeps us up at night will allow us to get a decent night's sleep will cease to plague our days (eh, anything's possible). But without that need to lie down and lapse from consciousness (even it not well) there'd be no waking up to something that we can believe is new.

Whether the day proves better than the last or not, we require something that means of breaking it from the last; without that, everything would drag on and on, and even at our most optimistic it's tricky to maintain that without a break.

And it gives us a chance to hit the snooze button, and feel like we're getting eight extra minutes of sleep.

There is that, too.

1 comment:

  1. The human brain needs to dream, whether or not it is asleep. So if a human goes long enough without sleep, dreams intrude on wakefulness, and the subject will hallucinate, sometimes with deadly results. So sleep is required so that dreams can be processed safely, while the body's major muscle groups are disabled via the process of REM atonia, which prevent the subject from responding physically to dream stimuli.

    I liked the episode of X-Files called "Sleepless," about the Viet Nam Special Forces soldiers who volunteered for surgery which eliminated their need to sleep, so they could fight 24 hours a day. Their platoon killed 4,000 VC in a year. Fascinating concept.


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