Sleep is so natural that few people think about how important it is assigned to it. Moreover, because of the constant acceleration of the rhythm of life and the resulting lack of time, people think more about how to do everything than about a healthy dream. But is this correct? Is time spent on sleep so useless? To deal with these issues, it is necessary to understand the nature of sleep and its role in our lives.

How did the science of dream develop?

Despite the fact that the science of sleep has developed only closer to the XIX, XX centuries, sleep and dreams have interested people since ancient times. At the same time, sleep was always considered something mystical, connected with the other world. In many ancient cultures, people believed that a sleeping person is in a special state, which is an intermediate between life and death:

… the dream, apparently, belongs by its nature to such states as, for example, the boundary between life and not life, and the sleeper neither exists nor exists, for the state of wakefulness is inherent in life mainly due to sensation. Aristotle.

Until now, folk traditions have come down, according to which, when a person falls asleep, the soul leaves the body and wanders around the world. Then they believed that if you change the appearance of a person (paint his face with paint, etc.), then the soul does not recognize the body and the person will not wake up.

This understanding of sleep prevailed until the XIX century, until the magic ideas were replaced by chemical and physiological theories, which, in turn, did not achieve significant results. Among these theories are the idea of ​​P. Cabanis and I. Muller about the connection between sleep and blood stagnation in the brain or the idea of ​​C. Bernard, A. Mosso and I. R. Tarkhanov on the relationship between sleep and anemia.

And yet, during this period of the development of the science of sleep, there is an achievement to be mentioned. Essential results in their work were achieved by the Russian woman doctor MM. Manasein. Her research, published in German and French magazines in the 1880s and 1890s, produced real resonance in the European scientific community. In her experiments, she was able to trace in detail and describe the physiological changes that occur in the body with prolonged absence of sleep. It turned out that if you do not sleep for a long time, then the immune system starts to collapse, as a result of which the body gradually dies.

But in spite of what successes MM achieved. Manassein and other scientists of this period, to doubt as a dream science, were still treated with distrust and skepticism. The reason for this lay in the absence of the possibility to reliably confirm or disprove many of the theories put forward. Sleep was studied only on the basis of its external signs, such as the person’s posture, the rhythm of breathing, the pulse rate, body temperature, etc. It was impossible to determine the depth of sleep without awakening a person.

The turning point for somnology was 1928. This year the German psychiatrist G. Berger invented electroencephalography. Now somnology has a method that allows you to objectively study sleep. The results were not long in coming: in 1939, A.L. Loomis, E.N. Harvey and GA Hobart proposed the first classification of sleep stages.


Sleep is a natural physiological process, during which a person is in a state characterized by a minimum level of brain activity and a reduced response to the world around him.

This process is cyclical. On average, diurnal sleep includes 4 to 6 cycles. In the course of one cycle, successively changing one another, the first phase begins, beginning with a drowsiness that turns into a deep sleep, and ending with the second phase, which we call a paradoxical (fast) sleep. Slow sleep is also called orthodox or non-REM-sleep. It is this phase that comes first and it accounts for about 75% of sleep. It should be mentioned that this phase prevails at the beginning of sleep, whereas before the awakening, the duration of fast sleep increases.

A fast (paradoxical) dream has a pronounced active nature. This manifests itself in rapid eye movements, rapid breathing and brain activity, which spends energy in almost the same way as in a waking state. But despite the fact that brain cells are highly active, information from both the sense organs to the brain and from the brain to the organs does not come. This strange situation, when the brain is boiling activity, but does not go beyond it and has led to the fact that this phase of sleep was called paradoxical. In addition, she suggests that in the phase of fast sleep problems of a different nature are solved, namely, in this phase the information received during the previous period of wakefulness is processed.

Sleep less, work more?

On average, sleep takes 5 to 9 hours a day. “But there is so little time?” You will say. And these words make sense. It is not difficult to imagine how much everything could have been done, if it was not necessary to go to bed. Is it because Winston Churchill slept 5 hours a day, Benjamin Franklin – 4, and Julius Caesar and did not sleep more than 3 hours a day?

Therefore, it is not surprising that the less you sleep, the more time you have left for life. And really, we need to have time to go to work, attend lectures and various seminars, in addition, meet with friends or spend time hobbies. How can I manage to do all this when there are only 24 hours in a day?

The Japanese found their solution.

居 眠 り. This is an interesting phenomenon, which is widespread in Japan. The essence of it is that a person makes up for lack of sleep in public transport, at work and even in a supermarket, in general – in any public place. This behavior not only does not cause condemnation, but moreover, is approved and encouraged by the Japanese, since it is believed that a person who has fallen asleep in a public place, sleeps little at home and works a lot.

This practice is of interest, but the question arises as to whether such intermittent sleep is harmful to the body?

Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor Kovalson Vladimir Matveevich is sure that sleep should fit into one and a half hour cycles, which is difficult to do if you sleep no more than half an hour on the go. Moreover, the well-known scientist believes that lack of sleep leads to a decrease in working capacity and increased irritability, and for a longer period, lack of sleep can even lead to serious health problems.

Thus, no matter what demands the modern world presents to a person, one should not neglect sleep and even more so refuse it.

Alternative ways of sleep

Despite the fact that you can not deny yourself a dream, there is an alternative that has become widely known in our time.

It consists that people try to change a mode of a dream so that to reduce the total amount of time necessary for a dream.

This approach is not meaningless. The main thing that you need to do is observe the cycles of sleep, do not interrupt them. He believes that the ideal situation is when a person wakes up at the end of a cycle, and not in the middle, which often happens when an alarm clock rings.

There are various variants of the altered sleep regime, for example, the so-called “polyphasic” sleep. People who practice this regime, instead of a long 8-hour sleep, sleep several times during the day. As a result, they can reduce the total sleep time to 4.5 hours per day.

Adherents of this regime explain the possibility of reducing the duration of sleep as follows. They are sure that a person does not particularly need a phase of slow sleep, whose task is to go to the fast sleep phase. Thus, they believe that if you go to the fast sleep phase as soon as possible, reducing the phase of slow sleep, this will cause the sleep time to decrease, and on restoring the body’s strength it will not affect and the person will have time to recover and feel rested .

There are people who practice alternative sleep regimes quite a long time.

Thus, this direction is really very attractive. Now, when time is called the most valuable resource, the need to increase the hours of activity makes people look for an opportunity to reduce the time that goes into sleep. How much is a good idea, now difficult to say. People who have long practiced alternative sleep patterns are quite satisfied with the results. They believe that it does not affect health and well-being. But we need to understand, however, that such a drastic change in the habitual sleep regime has not been investigated, and therefore the consequences of a regime change in the long-term period can not be accurately predicted. And just as a prolonged lack of sleep leads to the possibility of serious illness, and experiments with the duration and amount of sleep can subsequently lead to unfavorable results.

Learning while sleeping: myth or reality?

“Well,” you will say, “you can not neglect sleep, an attempt to cut it can cause negative consequences, but what if we sleep, but at this time we will learn?”

Studies have shown that training is possible at the stage of relaxed wakefulness and easy drowsiness. But it’s worth moving into a deeper phase of sleep, as the perception of the material is disrupted, and then completely stops. Thus, constantly supporting a person in a state of easy slumber will not solve the problem, since a person needs a full-fledged sleep, and training during normal sleep is impossible due to a constant phase change.

As a result, it becomes clear that you will not be able to learn during sleep. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why even recognizing the importance of sleep for life, many believe that having the opportunity to get rid of it, a person will be able to obtain the necessary additional time, which he will spend with greater benefit.

But this is a fundamentally wrong opinion. The truth is that even during sleep the brain “does not turn off”, but continues to work. He analyzes and evaluates all the information received for the day, sorts it and forms a playback mechanism, thereby creating what we call memories.

Trying to give up sleep or shorten the time spent on it, we simply deprive the brain of the ability to calmly comprehend and “digest” all the volume of information, emotions and emotions received and accumulated for the whole day.


In the modern world, the prevailing view is that many sleep only lazy, while successful people sleep a little. It’s a delusion. Normal sleep is no less important than proper nutrition or sport. As long as we sleep, our brain does not stop working, it processes and puts on the shelves all the information received for the day, which will subsequently form our system of views and values, and will be used by us to achieve our goals.

Dr. Eliza Gilmourd is an American Board Certified Sleep Specialist (DABSM) based in New Jersey. She has led and analyzed more than 300 sleep studies, including adult and pediatric patients. She is considered one of the leading practitioners in the field of sleep medicine in New Jersey. Dr. Eliza Gilmourd established SleepCare Solutions (SCS) in 2013 as an exclusive sleep disorder treatment center to provide outstanding clinical care to all patients with a wide range of sleep disorders, as well as training for patients and their families, other physicians and trainee physicians. SCS provides patients with expert consensus on individual diagnoses and management options, which may include follow-up breath tests, additional neurological examinations, or cognitive/behavioral therapy.

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