I have been adjusting to college life, but my sleep schedule is the topic of my roommates. Though they go to sleep at 3:30 in the morning drunk and/or high and wake up six hours later perky and fresh, I just can’t get in the habit. But when I go to sleep at 9pm and wake up at 8:30 I feel groggy and tired. One of my roommates has come to the conclusion that my 8+ hours of sleep followed by a nap later in the day is unhealthy. How much is too much sleep? How can I feel refreshed in the morning?
– The anti-Gracie Allen
Dear Auntie Grace,
Question: What do we have in common with fruit flies?
Answer: Sleep. (And morning breath. And those crazy wings that don’t respond to hair product.)
Sleep is the state of rest characterized by a drop in voluntary movement and a decreased reaction to external stimuli. Not to be confused with unconsciousness, which involves complete lack of responsiveness and is illustrated by a comatose state. Not to be confused with a lack of a conscience which is illustrated by an overzealous President who lies to everybody and his white-haired mother in order to launch one of the most hopeless wars in global history.
While we sleep we are actually restoring our organs and tissues on a cellular level. Which sounds like really hard work and explains why we often wake with puffy molecules. Our individual sleep patterns are determined by a combination of things, such as external stimuli, various hormones, and our brain stem – which looks exactly like this except with a brain attached.
During sleep we pass through many cycles, including:
This is the onset of the sleep cycle and is described as “drowsy sleep”. In this stage there is a decrease in muscle tone and a fading awareness of the external environment. This stage is also known as Intermediate Microeconomics with Mrs. Hofstetter.
Stage 2 occupies over half of our total sleep time. In this stage our awareness of the external environment disappears and our muscles relax completely. Stage 3 is a transitory stage delivering us into our deepest most restful stage of sleep known as Stage 4. Also known as Once You Become A Mother This Stage Disappears Completely Along With Pert Breasts.
We need sleep because it boosts our immune and memory functions. But how much sleep do we need? Recent studies suggest that too much sleep – more than eight hours – delivers the same side effects as too little sleep – which is considered less than six hours. These side effects include: waking “unrefreshed”, memory loss, depressive symptoms, trouble concentrating – and an increased risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease.
According to all the recent studies, the sleeping sweet spot seems to be between 7 to 8 hours a night. Except: the University of California conducted a six-year study involving more than a million men and women, and those results suggest that people who sleep exactly seven hours a night have the best mortality rate. While everyone else basically croaks.
The National Sleep Foundation did not support this study, however – stating that they usually recommend eight hours of sleep a night and worried the new results would only confuse people. Especially tired people.
“We need more studies,” said a representative of the National Sleep Foundation. “We need deeper research and a lot of thought before deciding to zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…”