Why Sleep

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I realized, a few days after moving into my apartment, that my neighbor is an enthusiastic accordion player who enjoys playing at odd hours of the evening. I have never had problems with insomnia or sleeping, but loud bursts emanating from compressed bellows at three in the morning do manage to wake me.

This new difficulty with sleeping prompted me to round up some articles connected to sleep and sleep deprivation:

Mary Sikes Wylie, senior editor at Psychotherapy Networker, comments on the bimodal sleep pattern, which may have been more common before the industrial revolution. Wylie argues that midnight or early-morning insomnia is far more natural than the eight hour sleep cycle societal convention says is so important.

An article from The New York Times delves into the question of why humans sleep… “It may be the biggest open question in biology.”

Although this isn’t connected with insomnia, those who need an extra booster shot of creative juices should take a nap. Researchers have found that naps increase the ability for individuals to solve problems, but only if the nap includes REM sleep. This means that longer naps are better, as REM occurs after approximately an hour of naptime.

Illustrations by Christoph Niemann on getting a good nights sleep.

Sleep and immunity to illnesses are tightly linked. Mammals that require more sleep produce more disease-fighting white blood cells.

At the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, researchers have also shown that species with more sleep generally have greater resistance against pathogens.

Want to know more about sleeping? Dig around the National Sleep Foundation, Sleep Education, or the American Academy of Sleep Medicine.


Nina Moog is a writer and director of photography based in Germany. She holds an MA from the University of St. Andrews and an MSc from the University of Oxford, where her thesis focused on photographic representations of prisons. More from this author →