Weekly musings, 5/21/17: sleeping when tired


Weekly musings, 5/21/17
In the book, “Wild Nights: How Taming Sleep Created Our Restless World,” Benjamin Reiss writes, “A significant part of the contemporary obsession with sleep is that we’re somehow doing it wrong.” 

This idea that there is a “wrong” way and a “right” way to sleep is in line with how the rest of the health and wellness disciplines are treated. Eating a specific way will kill you; eating the right way will cure cancer. Exercising the right way will extend your life, exercising the wrong way will increase risk of heart disease. (What constitutes the “right” way to eat and exercise, as far as I can tell, depends on how you manipulate the research). 

I love science. I love the idea that questions can be answered in a systematic, conclusive way. The problem, of course, is that science has flaws and researchers have biases.* When it comes to human nature, black and white statements regarding how much sleep we should get, how much exercise we should, and what we should be eating can be anxiety provoking. Perhaps it also makes it harder than it needs to be. What if we ate whole foods when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, and moved regularly, in a varied way throughout the day? Would we feel better and have more energy? Unfortunately, it goes against societal norms to take naps when we feel sleepy, or to get up and down from the floor regularly at work. But maybe it really could be that simple.

*This is a long, but interesting read on this topic: http://redux.slate.com/cover-stories/2017/05/daryl-bem-proved-esp-is-real-showed-science-is-broken.html