The Superpower that is Sleep

If you can have any superpower, what will you choose? Super strength? Perhaps the ability to fly? I know what I want. It is the ability to operate without sleep.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my sleep. But think of what we can accomplish if we operate at 150% productivity (as well as all the Netflix we can binge watch!).

The unfortunate truth is that despite my dreams of becoming a caffeine induced superhero, sleep remains essential to our body’s wellbeing. This has bothered me for the past few weeks so I have decided to do some research as to how we can get the most out of our sleeping hours. I discovered that sleep can be divided into different stages from the lightest to the deepest form of sleep. These cycles generally repeat every 90 minutes and are characterised by the rise and fall in sleep activity.

Stage 1 – light sleep, easily disrupted. It has actually been recorded in a 1960’s study that of the subject, “Only about 10 percent of those aroused from stage 1 said that they had been asleep”.

Stage 2 – a deeper stage of sleep than stage 1. This is the stage that we normally spend the most time in during the night.

Stage 3 – the deepest stage of sleep with minimal physical movement. This is the most restorative stage of sleep where tissue growth/repair is conducted and hormones are released.

REM – After the first 90-minute cycle, we will often experience our first REM (Rapid Eye Movement) sleep of the night. As we complete rotations of these sleep cycles throughout the night, the REM stage of sleep will grow increasingly longer, from 10 minutes all the way up to an hour each cycle.

Every stage of sleep is important, so we shouldn’t interrupt our body when it is in the middle of deep sleep.

Every stage of sleep is important, so we shouldn’t interrupt our body when it is in the middle of deep sleep. There are tools that exist to help you avoid waking your body up in the middle of a sleep cycle. I use an app aptly named sleep cycle. The idea is that instead of setting a specific alarm time in stone, sleep cycle identifies the cycles in your sleep pattern and tries to wake you up at the lightest stage of your sleep with minimal disruptions to your body’s recovery.

We all know what it feels like to wake up groggy and zombified. Good sleep assists greatly with our memory and energy levels throughout the day. Sadly we don’t possess my fantasy superpower of operating without any sleep. But with quality sleep, we’d feel like the superhero.

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