Tuesday, March 27, 2007


My current "independent-contractor" life has spoiled me for the grind - I've come to believe that getting up at 6 AM is practically a felony against the world (especially given my mood at this hour) and I have joined the ranks of hundreds sitting at a desk, looking blearily at a computer screen.

Advantage being, since there isn't anyone actually IN the school where I'm working this week (the little hellions are on spring break, and noone who doesn't have to comes in this early) I can spend these sandpaper-eye filled hours scanning the internet for interesting tidbits.

The one that caught my eye this fine morn? Sleep, of course. A well researched, terribly interesting article by Amanda Schaffer in Slate - "Why Do We Sleep?". There are lots of tidbits, but my favorite is one I've actually heard before but never had attributed - that sleeping is what allows us to remember:

"[Robert Stickgold, a cognitive neuroscientist at Harvard] is one of the foremost sleep researchers in the country and has long argued that sleep's crucial function is to boost memory and learning. His theory is that during sleep, the brain evaluates recently learned information and decides what to do with it. In the process, memory consolidation takes place—memories or skills that were acquired during waking are stabilized or enhanced, or perhaps moved to new locations. The brain may also extract patterns and rules from large amounts of information."

This makes sense to me - sleep gives us time to sort out the things that we can't deal with during the day, when the multiplicity of information feeds are all clamoring for our attention. How often have I been struggling with a piece of writing, and then after giving up and going to bed, leapt up an hour later to see the solution clear as day?

Just goes to show - getting up early (after going to bed late, anyway) is a crime not only against ourselves, but society. How much more productive would we be as a civilization if we were all getting 10 hours a night? I think a political campaign is in order...perhaps Obama or Hillary can rise to be not only the sane candidate, but the well-rested one as well.

1 comment:

The Original Tracy Tran said...

There was another study that at work, researchers and doctors recommend 30 minutes of sleep to have a productive day at work. You're on to something, but of course the big corporations and governments think we're robots and servants. Fools we are.