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Redefining Sleep

It’s one in the morning, and you still have about a dozen more things to get done before you can finally sleep, but your brain keeps telling you still have a few extra minutes to check your Facebook and hang out with some friends before really getting down to business. But by the time you actually get around to it, maybe an hour or two later, you convince yourself that sleep just isn’t going to happen tonight and you can nap during the breaks in your workday. Sound familiar?
Time always seems to disappear when we are on a tight schedule, and why is it that sleep always seems to be the one thing that gets pushed off to tomorrow? According to The New York Times, approximately one-third of all working adults gets six hours or less of sleep every night, and this sleep deprivation is wreaking havoc in institutions all over the United States.

During our four years or so at college, we will say we’re going to get to bed earlier, however that longer night’s sleep could be more of a hindrance than a help for those who are overtired. Society has narrowly agreed to accept that an eight-hour rest should be the norm on a nightly basis. But what if I were to tell you that neither our bodies nor our minds were meant to sleep for one-third of our lives?

In cultures all over the world, sleep is looked at differently. While Americans insist on eight hours, many other people groups encourage napping throughout the day in order to set up a “split sleep schedule.”

It is only due to our culture’s strict policy that if you don’t sleep the entire night through, you will not be well rested, and, consequently, our minds begin to trick us into believing that those popular beliefs are true! We develop something known as “sleep anxiety” and our brain will begin to panic after it realizes that the time we are able to sleep is not satisfying the full quota. A restless night could even be due to this mind-set that we will not “recharge” our batteries fully. So really, is it better to sleep for eight hours or so, worrying that it is not enough? Or should our culture decide to think outside of the box, so to speak, and change the way we think of sleeping entirely.

Sleep can occur at any hour, for any period of time in order to suffice for our energy and well-being, despite popular belief. Naps are acceptable, although you should only nap for about a half hour every so often in order to be recharged. So the next time it gets late and you begin to stress about sleep, just remember, convincing yourself that sleep can be redefined and does not have to be set in a block of eight-hours per night is half the battle.

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