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Sleep FAQ: Ideal Sleeping Length & Time, Circadian Rhythm, etc.

On this page, I plan to collate as many frequently asked questions about sleep as I can. Whether it be the best sleeping time, dreaming, ideal number of hours to sleep & ideal time to go to sleep, etc. If you couldn’t find an answer to your question, please feel free to leave a comment below, and I’ll find an answer for you.

What controls how often you dream?

If I exercise a lot, I tend to have more dreams.

When I don’t exercise, I rarely get dreams.

That’s because exercise influences the quality of your sleep; exercise makes you sleep better and have healthier sleeping cycles, meaning that you also have more REM sleep.

Acetylcholine may have something to do with dreaming. Exercise also restores the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, this may be relevant.

Why does sleeping for 8 hours feel like a few minutes and sleeping for a few minutes in the morning feels like many hours?

yellow Timex alarm clockBecause the type of sleep may have an influence on your memories.

When you sleep deeply, you won’t remember the time that passes.

When you sleep lightly, your brain is more conscious of the outside world. So when you sleep lightly, you are more likely to “feel” or “remember” the time passing.

Also, dreams can feel really long (happens in light sleep), because dreaming makes the person experience a lot of stimuli.

Compare that to a person experiencing a car crash. Because of the high level of attention, and emotion that the person experiences in a car crash, he will feel as if time slows down. His perception of time is longer, due to the amount of stimuli that he experiences. I theorize the same is true for dreaming.

What’s the ideal number of hours of sleep required for maximal efficiency?

The amount of sleep that you need to function optimally really depends on the quality of sleep that you are receiving.

Your quality of sleep depends on many factors. For example, factors that harm your quality of sleep include:

  • Being exposed to blue light at night from electronic devices. This upsets the circadian rhythm.
  • Drinking alcohol
  • Sleeping late
  • Frequently having your sleep broken at night
    • phone notifications
    • Sleep apnea

Poor quality sleep returns poor results. You end up feeling tired in the morning and require more sleep to makeup the shortage of quality with quantity. Not only that, but you will run the rest of the day at a lower cognitive level, meaning that you will have a harder time learning, remembering, and understanding whatever it is that you are doing.

Alternatively, factors that boost the quality of your sleep include sleeping early and exercise. Sleeping earlier causes you go to have a bigger spike of Growth Hormone in your sleep, which is responsible for the restorative effect of sleep. And exercise causes micro-tears in the muscles, signalling the body that it need to heal, which also contributes to a deeper sleep. The benefits of high quality sleep is that your brain can perform at a higher cognitive level while at the same time you’ll feel less depressed and more motivated to get things down.

My body needing repair is referring to the amount of exercise & sickness that my body experiences. If the body is sick, it needs more sleep to fight off infection and heal. And exercise has a two-way effect: heavy exercise can stimulate deeper sleep, but heavy exercise also means that the body has to sleep more to repair the body.

The irony about people who try to sleep less in order to have more time is that the lack of sleep causes them to be less productive, less happy, and overall waste more time because of poor cognition.

I need energy to study during the night. Does anyone have any suggestions?

An image that symbolizes the our internal vs external personality, behaviours, selfWell first of all, you shouldn’t be giving up your nightly sleep to study. It’s best to sleep first and study first thing in the morning.

High quality sleep is important because that is when most of the knowledge consolidation occurs. You’ll find that your short & long term memories and your ability to learn will decline with a decline in quality of sleep.

When you skip sleep or sleep late, you are hindering the restorative benefit that comes with sleep. Specifically, you will secrete less Growth Hormone with poor quality sleep, where Growth Hormone is responsible for the restoration and regeneration of the body; including the brain.

Another thing you can do to boost your study ability is to exercise. Exercise positively stimulates the brain, increasing your cognitive function short & long term. Exercise also improves your overall energy levels that is needed for cognitive function. Additionally, exercise increases the quality of your sleep because the micro-tears made in the muscles during exercise acts as a signal to the body that it needs restoration.

I sleep very well, I work normal during the day, no pressure, but I get very tired fast when time is almost 10 pm, and I must sleep, why?

Because our body follows a circadian rhythm; or a sleeping rhythm if you will. In other words, your body is programmed to fall asleep at night, and wake during the morning. And this is controlled by the light that enters our eyes and darkness.

Specifically, melatonin is what makes you feel sleepy at night. Melatonin is secreted by the body when the eyes detects a lack of light.

Alternatively, melatonin is suppressed when the eyes detect the presence of light. That’s why we generally feel more awake during the day than the night.

Although I don’t recommend it, you could suppress the production of melatonin in the body at night with artificial lighting; to be honest many of us are already doing that with computers, electronics, and the use of artificial florescent lights at night. These (blue) light emitting devices causes the circadian rhythm to be pushed back such that we keep sleeping later at night, missing the valuable restoration of early sleep.

What is the best time to go to sleep?

Consistently go to sleep at the same time; for example if your usual habit is to go to sleep at 12:00 at night, then try to keep it that way. Heading to bed earlier doesn’t hurt; but staying awake past your usual bedtime is what hurts.

In general, following the day-night cycle in terms of waking and sleeping is a good idea.

Why does it feel good to fall asleep while it’s raining?

The reason why the sound of rain and water helps a person fall asleep is because of how people perceive these sounds. To be specific, our brain is molded by the experiences we have. So that we associate loud, sudden, abrasive noises as danger. But we associate the repetitive, slow, whooshing sounds of water with calmness.

Another interpretation is that the sound of rain, waves crashing, and the human heartbeat are all considered pink noise. Pink noise occurs when all sounds of different frequencies carry the same octave. So higher frequency sounds will be heard lower than lower frequency sounds, which are heard higher. This makes a uniform wavelength, which if represented in the color spectrum, would appear pink. Apparently this syncs up with the natural rhythms of the human brain, which causes people to relax. Studies have been shown that it does help improve sleep.

Why do lack of sleep cause decrease in hunger and food digestion?

Usually, people who lack enough sleep end up being hungrier.

That’s because sleep restriction causes a reductions in leptin (the appetite suppressant) and elevations in ghrelin (the appetite stimulant) and increased hunger and appetite, especially an appetite for foods with high-carbohydrate contents.

But if your hunger decreases due to a lack of sleep, the possiblity is that sleep deprivation is causing you to feel stressed out, activating your adrenaline response just so that you can stay awake. And adrenaline and other fight & flight related stress hormones turns off the body’s digestion.

How can I go to sleep naturally without melatonin?

Don’t stay up late at night.

Make sure you don’t expose your self to too much artificial light when it is night time.

You’ll find that if you decrease your exposure to light at night, which was taken for granted without the advent of electricity, you naturally fall asleep faster.

That is because darkness, if you want to say, is what stimulates the secretion of melatonin from the pineal gland in the brain, and therefore darkness signals your body that it is time to go to sleep.

So it makes sense that artificial lighting may trick the body into thinking it is still day time, and you (and the majority of people who use artificial lights at night) end up staying up later at night than is natural.

Why do I always feel tired even when I get a good sleep?

What supplements, substances, and herbs can help you go to sleep?

A list of herbs that can help you go to sleep include:

A list of non-herbal supplements that may also improve your sleep quality include:

More information:

Have an unanswered sleep related question? Please feel free to ask me in the comments, and I’ll find that answer that you need 。◕‿◕。

The Revisionist

I own this blog

2 thoughts to “Sleep FAQ: Ideal Sleeping Length & Time, Circadian Rhythm, etc.”

  1. Oh, and I think that normal sleep is VERY important for people. And I don’t do my work or study at night. Also I try to go to bed till 23:00 and wake up not late 7:00. Unfortunately, I can’t do it permanently, but,,, yes, I try :)

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