Sleep: What is It? We Do We Need It? And How Can We Get More?

There is a lot of mystery about sleep.

For example, researchers are still not sure how or why humans began to sleep, but some speculate that sleep developed deep into evolutionary history. It’s very likely that sleep predates humanity.

That said, however, our noisy, bright, and busy modern world is not always conducive for a good night’s sleep. With devices like iPads and smartphones coming into prominence over the past decade, some researchers and psychologists who study sleep argue that all of the screens in our lives do not help us sleep more. Some of the standard advice is to put the phone or electronic tablet away at least an hour before you go to sleep.

Another dimension of sleep is temperature.

Apart from avoiding bright lights before going to sleep, have the right room temperature is important. Here, thinking of Goldilocks remains instructive . . . not too hot, not too cold. Most standard advice about temperature and sleep notes that a person’s room temperature should be cool, but not too cold. Moreover, sleeping when it is too warm or hot does not always help individuals sleep, but sometimes it might not be an option.

Historically, the 7- or 8-hour sleep advice is relatively new. During medieval Europe, for example, sleep used to be divided into two separate sessions during the long winter months, when it may have only been light outside for a few hours each day. These sleep sessions, called “First Sleep” and “Second Sleep,” were broken up throughout the night. Typically, a person or family would go to sleep early after sundown. Then, that person would wake up in the middle of the night, sometime around midnight, stay up for a few hours, and then go back to sleep a few hours later. This practice continued for hundreds of years.

Nowadays, lack of sleep tends to be the problem. Although there might not be a single reason why sleep has been on the decline, it may be a confluence of influences, such as overwork, stress and anxiety, and – as mentioned earlier – too much technology. Lack of sleep can have devastating long-term impacts, which is why it remains important to take sleep seriously and to try to get a good sleep.
Some of the recommended ways to help you fall asleep faster range from meditation to aromatherapy to exercise, and, too, not eating too much just before you go to sleep.

Finally, although there is not magic bullet to helping a person sleep better, there are some general things a person can do to help one sleep better. Additionally, getting a good night’s sleep is good for your help and good for your mind. Learning more about sleep, how it works, and how to improve sleep are steps in the right direction.

Idzikowski, C. (2000). Learn to Sleep Well. Chartwell Books: New York, NY.

Brooke Lamberti

Brooke Lamberti is a content writer based out of Scranton, Pennsylvania. She received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Marywood University, and has prior career experience working in social work and domestic violence advocacy. She has a passion for writing and helping others.

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