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For the Love of Sleep


January 25 , 2020
By Kidist Yidnekachew ( Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com. )



Last week, I had to wake up late at night, because my son was crying. My love for him did not change the fact that I was deeply irritated that I had to wake up before finishing my sleep. If it was physically possible and had I been capable of functioning with very little sleep, I would have taken from the 26 years we humans are believed to spend sleeping and allocated it to the time I spend with him.

Almost all people in the world spend a third of our lives asleep. It is the one activity that consumes most of our time, making us prisoners of our beds. I am no exception. I take my sleep time seriously. I do not negotiate when it comes to it, and anything that comes between me and my sleep is my enemy.

However, there is always an exception to the rule. In this case, they are known as "short sleepers"- not to be confused with sleep deprivation. The former function normally with less than a normal amount of sleep. To me, these are aliens.

There are about 20 true short sleepers around the world, according to Christopher Jones, professor of clinical neurology at the University of Utah. Their circadian rhythm is different from the rest of us.

“Their moods (very upbeat) and their metabolism (they're thinner than average, even though sleep deprivation usually raises the risk of obesity). They also seem to have a high tolerance for physical pain and psychological setbacks,” he stated.

Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson and Leonardo da Vinci were believed to be short sleepers. For years I have been trying to discover their secrets. After I read in a blog that a person can trick their minds into thinking they have gotten enough sleep, I tried to do it. But then I realised tricking my mind into thinking that would mean I would not need to sleep to compensate the amount of sleep I lost. But I would rather get actual sleep than tricking my mind into thinking I've slept.

But I had always imagined all that I - or any of us - could accomplish had we been capable of functioning with little sleep. Most of us have tied up schedules divided between work or school and leisure. The majority of our daytime is spent on activities required for our survival.

Not many of us take the time from our busy schedules to carry out activities that interest us. When we finally get home from our daily routines, we just want to rest and sleep. Sure, some people take their work to their homes or even as tired as they are still find the time to read, watch movies and converse with their family members.

I often imagine how cutting my sleep time short by one or two hours could have affected my life differently. I can only imagine how enlightened I could have been had I spent time reading, researching and learning new things every day instead of going to bed early. I can imagine the happiness I would have brought to my family had I sacrificed the extra hour or two to do something memorable with them instead of jumping to bed early.

I would have built strong relationships with friends had I given the time to really listen and talk to my friends even after a busy day. I would have kept myself entertained while learning something had I not been sleeping in the middle of watching movies.

I can imagine all the great things I could have done if it was not for the love of my sleep. But even after saying all that, it is hard to keep myself awake when all I want to do is sleep.

Even as I was writing this article, I was debating whether or not to sleep before finishing it. For once, I prevailed, and here we are.



PUBLISHED ON Jan 25,2020 [ VOL 20 , NO 1030]



Kidist Yidnekachew has degrees in psychology and journalism and communications. She can be reached at kidyyidnekachew@gmail.com.






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