viernes, junio 16, 2006


Some time ago, during my third year at University, a classmate and I had to write a paper about sleep. Even thought I've always liked arts better than science because I can't stand maths, I've always considered myself a curious soul and I feel drawn to everything that has to do with science but is not maths.
I think that's one of the reasons why we slip the subject, cause we were supposed to write a paper about a humanities theme (??).
Well, the thing is that when we were writing it, we discovered there's a sleep disorder called 'fatal familial insomnia'. And, as its name says, it's fatal. The brain, as I've heard lots of times, is like a computer, and it stores data during the day. When we sleep, the brain gets rid of all the junk info and it rests, getting ready for the next day. When that doesn't happen, the brain complains. Apparently, nobody can go for more than 11 days without sleeping. You die before that. If you don't believe me, pay attention to House, episode #18. They talk about lack of sleep.
Another curious thing about sleep is that every animal species has its own sleep and wakefulness patterns. As curious but useless fact, I'd tell you that dolphins, as cetaceans or marine mammals, have to get to the water surface to breathe, but they also have to sleep. So, can you think how the wise Mother Nature has solved that? The dolphin's brain sleeps "in chunks", meaning that first one hemisphere of the brain sleeps while the other makes sure that the dolphin gets out to breathe, and then the other way round. Don't you find it just amazing?
We, as animals, have the weirdest sleep patterns of all cause we alter them all the time. First, our brain chose a light and darkness pattern to define the sleep hours. But within that pattern, there are two different kinds of people. In some books its defined as 'owls' and 'larks'.
'Owl type' of people find it very hard to get up early in the morning and feel more comfortable staying awake till late at night. Their peaks of activity begin in the evening, and that's why they're 'out' in the morning.
'Lark type' of people are those who find it super easy to get up early in the morning, but at 10 p.m. are more than ready for bed. Their peak of activity begins midmorning, that's why they don't have any energy at night. Funny, huh?
Well, there's some people who don't believe this, but that's the way it is. If it weren't like that, why is there people who even though they go to bed at a "decent" time at night, they just can't get up in the morning? Exactly.
Now. It just downed on me, if someone can die from insomnia, can you die from sleeping too much? We have already said that extremes aren't good, and everybody knows that you can't make up for lost sleep, but it's so good to be in bed. Could I die from pleasure? and from laziness? I don't know. I'll tell you when I wake up from my nap...

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