Question: What do we have in common with fruit flies?
Answer: Sleep. (And morning breath. And those crazy wings.)
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.
And then there’s REM sleep:
This stage of sleep most often occurs toward the end of our sleep cycle and is associated with dreaming. REM is also known for its involuntary movement:
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.
The National Sleep Foundation did not support this study, stating that they usually recommend eight hours of sleep a night and they expressed worry that the new results would 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…”