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Sunday, April 1, 2007

On Sleep

This being my first post here at JonTaylor.Ca, I've spent an inordinate amount of time in paralysis, trying to come up with something worthy of the gig. Sadly, great wit and memorable wisdom are not things that I spout on cue. They are things that I produce slowly, organically, and through the rigorous application of ambitious substance abuse.

Instead, I have decided to be useful. Here, then, is a executive summary on sleeping effectively.

A. We sleep in cycles. These cycles last approximately 90 minutes. We sleep lightest at the beginning of the cycle; we sleep heaviest at its end. In between two cycles there are a few minutes where we are not actually asleep; if we wake up during the middle of the night, it is usually during those instances.

B. In order to feel most refreshed upon waking, it is important to wake up in between two cycles, or at the beginning of a new cycle. Thus, it is better to sleep six hours (four complete cycles), than seven hours (waking up near the end of a sleep cycle).

C. Waking up before the end of a sleep cycle is what gives you that 'I-just-got-punched-by-a-brick' feeling that makes putting on your pants a task of herculean proportions.

d. To figure out exactly how long your sleep cycle is, keep an eye out the next few times you sleep without an alarm clock. Figure out what the common multiple is between those sleep sessions. That is the length of your sleep cycle.

e. Finally, don't waste your time trying to enlighten someone in the throes of fanaticism. This has nothing to do with sleep. It's just good advice.

[source: The Owner's Manual for the Brain, Third Ed.]