I’ll sleep when I’m dead

I’ve spent some time recently ruminating over the topic of sleep. Not because of a lack of it, or because of getting too much of it. Perhaps it is because I recently returned to work after a long break, so took some time to readjust to my regular routine. I’m pretty much back into it lately, though some days I get still get started later than usual, which is why I’m posting this now instead of my usual early in the morning.

Sleep itself is still the subject of great scientific debate. The question of why we need to sleep has baffled humankind for millennia. It is evident though that as we are growing, we need more sleep, and that the amount we require decreases until adulthood, when our daily (mostly) periods of unconsciousness continue to replenish our energy supply and clear our heads.

What I do wonder about is how much sleep do we actually need? I get by absolutely fine averaging six hours. Rarely do I sleep more than eight. And eight would be an exceptional amount. But by all accounts 8 hours sleep seems to be the average for most adults. When I think about it, that seems a bit absurd. That we spend one third of our adult life unconscious. So, if somebody lives to the grand old age of ninety, they’ve only really lived sixty years. Less even, when you consider how much more we sleep when we are younger. So am I astonished when I hear people say they need (or perhaps just want) nine or ten hours sleep a night. That sounds more like a medical condition than natural required rest.

Anyway, when I think about sleep in this way, even six hours seems a lot. That’s a quarter of our adult life. Three months per year. Perhaps I should try cutting down a bit more… but I wonder what the lower limit is? We were told in school about how Leonardo da Vinci only slept four hours per day, by taking short naps several times a day instead of all at once. However, how can this rumour about him be verified? Maybe he did sleep less than the average person, but to my mind this sounds like a story somebody once made up, and because everybody liked the sound of it, it grew legs and still persists to this day.

Seeing as I have suddenly and inadvertently found myself quite busy in recent weeks, I wouldn’t even have time for more sleep. As it is,there are barely enough hours to fit in time for running, writing, reading, checking out new music, recreational TV or movie watching, keeping up to date with world events, or going to gigs or other events, all fitted around a work schedule. Not to mention actually being social occasionally. I’d have to cut out a few things from the above list if I were to sleep more. That’s not going to happen. I’ll be dead long enough.



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