I think that we chronically undervalue sleep.
Most of us treat sleep like it’s a bothersome waste of time during which we fail to accomplish anything because we ‘don’t get anything done’. But as my kids will tell you: “Sleep is the best remedy”. I was a carer for someone in hospital recently and while I understand the need to make sure that a patient with an acute condition is not bleeding internally or somehow slipping away, I could not understand the need to prod and poke them and wake them up every couple of hours when their body so desperately needed to heal. And when I questioned that, the answer I received from doctors to nurses to social workers and ‘experienced’ patients alike was “oh, yes. You don’t sleep in a hospital”.
WHY NOT? When the body repairs itself mostly during sleep? When we know that sleep deprivation can delay wound healing? I was secretly wondering if it had anything to do with the fact that the (often wonderful, skilled, life saving) doctors who run hospitals are trained out of normal sleep patterns during all the years of their training and early career and end up thinking it’s normal to disrupt sleep because it is their everyday reality for so long?
Recent studies on aging show that it is caused by inflammation. When the body needs to repair itself it often creates heat in that place. If we never give it the down time (and nutritional building blocks) to repair, the heat (inflammation) ends up staying there permanently, while the body keeps on degenerating anyway. There you have it: chronic pain, arthritis, diabetes, asthma, high blood pressure. Oh, and wrinkles with white hair.
Not to mention the other sleep activities: reorganization of the brain that allows us to sort through information and function better the following day, being visited by guides and angels who comfort us and teach us, the pleasure of dreaming and resting. Sleep is a very busy time, not easily quantified in terms of productivity.
Ok: I am off to sleep!