I heard a doctor on the radio a few years ago speaking of how he believed sleep is not actually a neccessity. By his arguments, sleep is actually just an addiction, and one we can eliminate. He believed that the problems people encounter during sleep deprivation are in actuality nothing but withdrawal symptoms as someone weans themself from the addiction.

Now I'm sure that most of you, like myself, have trouble believing the idea. I know that I don't believe it. But think, for a moment, about how nice it would be if we didn't have to sleep. Think how much more time we would have. I know I always have so many more things that I would like to do than time permits. In the wonderful way that the human mind works, which is echoed in some ways by the way everything2 functions, writing this has brought two random associations to mind. The first one is simple: If we didn't have sleep, then why would we have beds other than for sex? When would children be given their first bed? It brings up a lot of questions doesn't it...

The slightly less crude, though perhaps also less intruiging thought that came to mind is the idea of people who do manage to get away with little to no sleep. Monks manage to get by with no sleep whatsoever, meditating for periods of 15 minutes several times a day. I don't have firsthand experience of this, however I do have a friend who managed to last an entire year sleeping only every other night. On the night he did sleep, he only slept for 2 hours.

People seem to need different amounts of sleep. Unfortunately, I need a lot. I wish I needed little, and sometimes I don't sleep enough to try to get things done. It always ends up being counterproductive however, for when you're tired you don't work well, which makes you need more time to do your work, which makes you stay up later, which makes you more tired, which... you get the idea.

I work much better with sleep... but oh! The possibilities with the time were it not needed. The possibilities... Time is of the essence.

Well, if sleep is an addiction, it doesn't look like one I'll be giving up any time soon. I doubt anyone else will, either.

I honestly don't believe sleep is an addiction. It's more of a living being's regenerative cycle. We'd run out of energy if we were up and about 24/7. If we didn't sleep, I can guarantee we'd all go insane and die, or kill one another in a psychotic rage. Doesn't that sound like fun?

Physical arguments aside, I would have to disagree with this theory. And I'll tell you why!

Sleep is pretty much the only time when a human can dream. What's that? What about daydreams? Well, from the definition, a dream occurs when you are sleeping. A daydream is defined as "a pleasant visionary that is usually a wishful creation of the imagination." So that takes care of that.

It's a common feeling among psycologists and psychiatrists that dreams help one to relieve stress and pent-up emotions from things that might have happened during the day. I guess its like that time when I ran over my dog with that riding lawnmower on my birthday. That night I had a dream about...running over my dog with a riding lawnmower on my birthday. Weird. Just kidding.

But seriously, one theory is that dreams are fabricated by the mind as a way for people to subconsciously deal with stressful of emotional issues that they may be dealing with.

For example, lets say that you get fired. That night you go to bed, have a dream about killing your boss with an icepick INSTEAD of staying up all night planning on how to get back at those bleeps with a pipe bomb. You wake up the next morning feeling refreshed, having gotten rid of that stressful hostility and go out looking for a new, better job!

Of course, the next guy to get fired just might not go to bed right away. I think they call that the "postal factor". I can see that you understand. :)

Maybe, if you have no stress, i.e. if you're an old monk in China who practices Yoga everyday to relieve the stress, you could very well go without sleep indefinately. Very interesting indeed.

But I doubt you're a Chinese monk, so go get some sleep!!

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