Wednesday, April 27, 2005


And now from the "Did You Know?" department: Did you know that before the invention of the lightbulb Americans averaged 9.5 hours of sleep per night? And that was in the days when we were a hard-working agricultural society. We worked hard, but we allowed ourselves the grace to sleep when the sun slept so we'd be fresh for the next day's work.

Then came Thomas Edison.

Why is it that we 21st-Century humans think we can run 24/7 without rest or necessary sleep? Oh, yes, thanks to Mr. Edison, we have the light we need to work 24/7, but our bodies aren't designed that way.

We would do well to learn from our canine friends.

Oh, yes, they work hard, play hard, and eat with gusto. They perform when called upon to do so. But sleep, for them, is a must. It's a priority. And nothing will keep them from their needed sleep (except maybe a few days at the kennels, which is why they sleep for two days after their return). They'll flop anywhere, anytime, whenever their bodies cry out for rest.

I love to watch the dogs sleep; they rest peacefully most of the time. Occasional dreams make their limbs dance and their faces twitch; they may even whimper, bark, or moan while they dream. But in all, they rest well. And they stay healthy for it.

I wonder how many of our contemporary health issues are complicated by insufficient rest (probably quite a few). In a society that values performance and productivity above all else, rest becomes an expendable, devalued commodity.

But it's not expendable. It's necessary.

I'm learning that I need 8.5 hours of sleep per night to function optimally. Oh, I can get by with less, but I'm worse off for it. And if I go weeks and weeks with too little sleep, my body rebels and my health pays.

Like Baxter, Elsie, and Ridge, I think I'll pay more attention to my need for rest, and sleep when I need to. Sleep is not a waste of time, as we're tempted to think; it makes us that much more productive (and easy to live with) when we're awake.

Gee, the dogs are sleeping. Maybe I'll go take a nap (says the woman who got only 5 hours of sleep last night). ;o)

'Til next time,

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