Sleep has preoccupied and fascinated many civilizations since the dawn of mankind. Sleep is common to all humankind- and humankind is equal before it. For thousands of years, sleep was views as an inseparable part of the order of nature, testimony to nature’s good sense or the wisdom of God.
However, the purpose of sleep remains one of the greatest unsolved mysteries in science. Although we spend roughly one-third of life asleep, researchers still do not know exactly why. The fact that sleep is unavoidable raises the possibility that it is something akin to short-term death.
On average, human beings spend a third of their lives in sleep, yet scientists do not yet know precisely what sleep accomplishes. It is presumed to serve some restorative function, but just how sleep refreshes us is unclear.
Sleep is a dynamic state
Scientists are still seeking answers to many questions about man’s need for sleep. They do not know, for example, why man cannot simply rest, as insects do. Nor have they discovered exactly how sleep restores vigor to the body.
Sleep is more than a time of rest and relaxation. It is also a time of recuperation and repair, of growth and re-growth. During the normal course of living, cells of the body wear out and must be replaced. This regeneration takes place more rapidly during sleep. It has been shown, for example, that the epithelial cells of the skin divide and make new cells about twice as fast during sleep.
While sleep is often thought to have evolved to play an unknown but vital role inside the body, a new theory now suggests it actually developed as a method to better deal with the outside world.
Sleep medicine is a relatively new scientific specialty.
There are many mysteries that surround sleep. Take for instance the question, ‘Are you sleeping?’ The answer can never be in the affirmative. Any response can come only from a person who has been shaken out of sleep and is therefore awake. Likewise, there is no one who can describe sleep as and when it is being experienced. The term, ‘a good night’s sleep’ really refers to what you feel after the event is over. This is perhaps one reason why scientists are unable to explain comprehensively the true nature of sleep.
What, however, is most intriguing is that sleep, a basic human need, seems to possess a will and way of its own. It cannot be had for love or for money. You may long and even crave for sleep, but you can enjoy it only when it comes of its own accord.
So, why did God imagine sleep? He never sleeps! According to religious texts sleep is a gift of love. Sleep is a daily reminder from God that we are not God.
Prayer is better than sleep
Most of us acknowledge at some level that sleep makes us feel better. We feel more alert, more energetic, happier, and better able to function following a good night of sleep. However, the fact that sleep makes us feel better and that going without sleep makes us feel worse only begins to explain why sleep might be necessary. One way to think about the function of sleep is to compare it to another of our life-sustaining activities: eating. Hunger is a protective mechanism that has evolved to ensure that we consume the nutrients our bodies require to grow, repair tissues, and function properly. And although it is relatively easy to grasp the role that eating serves— given that it involves physically consuming the substances our bodies need—eating and sleeping are not as different as they might seem.
In 1993, author Wayne Jackson argued the case that the human anatomy is so characterized by “design,” that it cannot possibly have evolved through a series of accidental circumstances. We are not a library of freak occurrences. Rather, as David, king of Israel, humbly declared: We have been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psa. 139:14).
He goes on to say that they do not believe there is any naturalistic explanation which accounts for the origin of sleep. On the contrary, they affirm that “sleep” is a mechanism, designed by God, to facilitate the well-being of certain forms of biological organisms, including man.
It is believed, however, that sleep performs its most powerful “magic” on the brain. This appears to be suggested by the fact that those who are deprived of sleep over several days experience minimal physical damage as compared to the mental turmoil that afflicts them. John Pfeiffer cites a study done on several hundred soldiers who stayed awake for more than four days. Medical examinations afterward revealed no significant physical debilitation. “Sleeplessness has its most important effect on one organ, the brain”
The brain is a paradox. It needs sleep, but it does not sleep.
The history of sleep and dreaming goes back to the BC era, when ancient Egyptians were the leading technological force. The Egyptians analyzed the meaning behind dreams and they analyzed dream symbols, searching for prophecies from the gods. They believed in three bodies: Shat (the corpse body), Ka (the living physical body) and Ba (the soul).
Ba is often represented in hieroglyphics as a human-headed bird floating above the sleeping body or corpse. According to one expert “…the Ba is the person but in another form. The Ba could be defined as an individual in an out-of-body state.” Was the Ba actually the lucid dreaming consciousness?
Under the influence of Imhotep; Egyptian sleep temples were hospitals of sorts, healing a variety of ailments, perhaps many of them psychological in nature that were documented over 4000 years ago. The treatment involved chanting, placing the patient into a trance-like or hypnotic state, and analyzing their dreams in order to determine treatment.
In animal models, sleep deprivation is lethal; sleep deprived rats or mice die after two or three weeks – but we don’t know why. It has never been tested in humans but long-term sleep deprivation would probably lead to death.
During sleep the three parts of the brain are talking to each other in a very complex way.
Though sleep appears to have been primarily designed for the health of the brain. There is a general slowing down of all the body’s rhythms, a diminuendo of all its processes. Heartbeat and respiration retard to a leisurely pace; blood pressure and temperature fall to a lower level; the level of adrenaline in the blood and the volume of urine also fall. Sleep restores energy to the body, particularly to the brain and nervous system. Sleep also assists healing.
Poor sleep health is a common problem with 25 percent of U.S. adults reporting insufficient sleep or rest at least 15 out of every 30 days.1 The public health burden of chronic sleep loss and sleep disorders, coupled with low awareness of poor sleep health among the general population, health care professionals, and policymakers, necessitates a well-coordinated strategy to improve sleep-related health.
The fact is, America has been taking sleep for granted far too long.
The National Sleep Foundation in the US says experts believe that there is no “magic number” for how much sleep we need. Different age groups need different amounts, and we each vary in how much sleep we require.
Sleep, like nutrition and physical activity, is a critical determinant of health and wellbeing. Sleep is a basic requirement for infant, child, and adolescent health and development. Sleep loss and untreated sleep disorders influence basic patterns of behavior that negatively affect family health and interpersonal relationships. Fatigue and sleepiness can reduce productivity and increase the chance for mishaps such as medical errors and motor vehicle or industrial accidents.
For every effect there must be an adequate cause. The data associated with sleep eloquently argue the proposition that there was an intelligent Cause for this experience. There are too many tell tale evidences that reflect “design” in the process. And, as we have observed many times before, even skeptics concede that everything designed has a designer. Thank God for this provision. Sleep well!
Live and Learn. We All Do.
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