10 Spot Ramble: Sleep

nazreth / stock.xchng
nazreth / stock.xchng

Just about the time I finished poking around the internet and got ready to write for StealingFaith last night Bubby let loose a massive cough and expelled a significant amount of vomit onto my body and the sofa.


It was awesome. Within another 20 minutes he’d had three more exorcist like vomiting experiences and after a hurried discussion I took him to the Emergency Room.


He’s going to be fine, but has a virus and was dehydrated. Between the enjoyment of a midnight hospital run and trying to push fluids on a lethargic baby I got about 6.2 minutes of sleep last night. Which means today I’m so tired I am literally not able to process words people are speaking to me. It’s an unfortunate handicap.


While this is not good for my inter-personal communication skills, this is the recipe for a perfect storm of random facts about the goofy stuff that happens when you’re sleepy.


So, brought to you by the entrée of an ER visit with a side of vomit, here’s your 10 Spot Ramble: Sleep.


1. Humans are the only species that can choose sleep deprivation. Staying up late is not a choice for the rest of the animal kingdom; humans are the only ones who can deliberately override the drive to sleep. Staying up to finish a movie, pulling an all nighter to finish up a project, or even setting an alarm to get up in the morning are all cognitive decisions that other beings are unable to make. I don’t know if this reinforces the human’s place at the top of the food chain or is proof we will soon descend.


2. If you’re in the mountains, expect to suffer. The higher the altitude, the greater the sleep disruption. Generally, sleep disturbance becomes greater at altitudes of 13,200 feet or more. The disturbance is thought to be caused by diminished oxygen levels and accompanying changes in respiration, though most people adjust to new altitudes in approximately two to three weeks.


3. Married people sleep better. Divorced, widowed and separated people report more insomnia. This also makes me wonder if there really is something to the age-old instruction not to let the sun go down on a conflict.


4. Siesta! According to the results of National Sleep Foundation’s 2008 “Sleep in America” poll, a surprising 34 percent of respondents reported their employer allows them to nap during breaks and 16 percent provide a place to do so. These are the places you want to work!


5. Sleep is very, very sneaky. It is impossible to tell if someone is really awake without close medical supervision. People can take cat naps with their eyes open without even being aware of it. This explains my own ability to creep people out with my open, vacant, small pupiled eyes. I don’t know the power of a nap.


6. The baby is a killer. A new baby typically results in 400-750 hours of lost sleep for parents in the first year. That’s roughly one full month of lost sleep for the average person. I’ll be generous and assume a pregnancy loses half that amount of sleep. This means I’ve lost approximately six months of my life to the sneaky sleep suckers masquerading as my flesh and blood. Blood thirsty maggots! Even better, some studies suggest women need up to an hour’s extra sleep a night compared to men, and not getting it may be one reason women are much more susceptible to depression than men.


7. Why you dreamed you’re naked. REM dreams are characterized by bizarre plots, but non-REM dreams are repetitive and thought-like, with little imagery – obsessively returning to a suspicion you left your mobile phone somewhere or you’re giving the class president campaign speech in your knickers, for example. REM sleep occurs in bursts totaling about two hours a night, usually beginning about 90 minutes after falling asleep.


8. Pull out the floodlight. Scientists have not been able to explain a 1998 study showing a bright light shone on the backs of human knees can reset the brain’s sleep-wake clock. What I really want to know is how they even came up with the knee-back hypothesis to start with!


9. Watch out for alcohol. After five nights of partial sleep deprivation, three drinks will have the same effect on your body as six would when you’ve slept enough.


10. Daylight Savings stinks. I’ve always been suspicious of Daylight Savings Time and now I have another irritation: The extra hour of sleep received when clocks are turned back at the end of daylight saving time has been found to coincide with a fall in the number of road accidents.


The kicker of all the random facts I discovered is this:

The record for the longest period without sleep is 18 days, 21 hours, 40 minutes during a rocking chair marathon. The record holder reported hallucinations, paranoia, blurred vision, slurred speech and memory and concentration lapses.

I can’t even begin to imagine the cutthroat competition at the rocking chair marathon! The potential for smashed toes, inner ear turmoil, and hernia creation! Who does that???


On a related note, I would love to hear some Ambien stories. Several friends have shared hysterical stories from when they took Ambien – do you have one to share?



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