Saturday, August 29, 2009


More healing than rest and relaxation is sleep. And so, in some ways, this post is way out of sequence. I pointed out under transportation that it was so much less important than eating and that was why it was so far from the beginning of this sequence. By that logic, this post, number 37, makes sleep sound really unimportant.

Actually, in many ways sleep belongs somewhere at the start of the needs segment, in the early posts where I was discussing physiological needs. What I did discuss there was the need for Shelter, both Temporary (5/19/09) and Permanent (5/31/09). One of the reasons for this need is to have a safe location to sleep. Indeed, people sometimes refer to this as "place to lay my head". We need to sleep and we need safe space to do it.

Both lack of sleep and too much sleep have been shown to shorten your life span. Sleep deprivation can cause multiple ill effects, including headaches, hallucinations, and hernias--not to mention traffic accidents in those foolish enough to drive while sleep deprived. According to Wikipedia, it is impossible to have complete deprivation over a long period of time because the body lapses into episodes of microsleep.

The average person needs seven to eight hours of good, sound sleep. Caffeine (from coffee, tea, sodas, or chocolate), nicotine, and alcohol can interfere with sleep--in other words, the stuff people usually use in this society. A great quote from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke claims: "The widespread practice of 'burning the candle at both ends' in western industrialized societies has created so much sleep deprivation that what is really abnormal sleepiness is now almost the norm." This is a good example of what our crazed capitalist society is doing to people.

There is a Zen story of a master being told of someone with miraculous powers and being asked what miracles he could perform. He answered, "My miracle is that when I feel hungry I eat, and when I feel thirsty I drink." And in this society, the miracle may be that when we are tired, we actually sleep.

Dick McLeester, Welcome to the Magic Theater--Subtitled 'A Handbook for Exploring Dreams', this is a long out of print catalog of useful information about dreams and dreaming; you might find it in a used bookstore
MedicineNet, "Your Guide to Healthy Sleep"--A simply written guide to understanding the essentials about sleep and how to take care of yourself by getting enough
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, "Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep"--A more technical analysis of sleep
The National Sleep Foundation--Yes, there is a whole foundation devoted to studying sleep; this site contains lots of articles related to basics about sleep and new information being found out by sleep research

Also see the resources under Temporary Shelter (5/19/09) and Permanent Shelter (5/31/09)

Quote of the Day: "No day is so bad it can't be fixed with a nap." - Carrie Snow

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