I began to study sleep when I was living and teaching on campus in a Chinese High School a few years ago. Many students were very sleepy in class, so I looked at their schedule.
6.00 am First call over the school speakers for breakfast
7.20 First class - 40 minute periods - with break fifteen minutes break
12.00 Lunch time - 2 hours, most students catnapped.
5.20 pm Break for meal and play
7.20 3.5 hours of 40 minute periods - with break fifteen minutes
10,20 Classes end - and homework begins.
The dorm lights stayed on until 1 am, meaning that a maximum of five hours sleep per night was available. In my opinion, that is torture - enforcing young teenagers to have a maximum of five hours nightly sleep is just cruel, as well as totally failing to achieve objectives.
The first three studies I read suggested that nine hours sleep was more appropriate for a teenager. Chinese culture has a serious weakness in failing to understand sleep.
Allowing ourselves to sleep properly is the first step in loving ourselves. Research on Internet indicates that adults should have nightly sleep of about eight uninterrupted hours in a totally darkened room. Some say that having the head pointing towards the magnetic pole is also beneficial.
My mother's culture was based on: "One hours sleep before midnight is as good as two after." My own experience bears that out. I always perform better after a proper night's sleep - I suppose it's obvious to all of us.The time of going to sleep is even more important than the length of sleep. Our body clocks, or circadian rhythms, are related to the rising and setting of the sun, so our sleep should be also.
During deep sleep (which commences about ninety minutes into the sleep period), the demands on our body and mind to act and react gradually reduce to zero. We are able to relax, and cease the generation of vibrations and electronic impulses which activate motion by mind to muscle activity. Once we enter the deep sleep stage, and our nerve ends have ceased tingling, and the mind is completely unconscious, then both the mind and body are able to accept the vibrations of the all encompassing ecosphere, enabling alignment and healing to occur and the storage of energy for a fresh and active start to the next day.
All day we expend energy, and if we do not amass sufficient energy during the night, our performance will be less than optimum during the day. If we continue to accumulate a negative energy balance our health will be detrimentally affected.
The best deep sleep is obtainable in a quiet room, completely dark and as silent as possible, with the exception of the sounds of nature. If we are disturbed at regular intervals, and do not get sufficient deep sleep, then the nightly healing process remains incomplete, and our performance and health suffer.
The transition process requires more energy than our old daily routine, so we should make a more concerted effort to improve our energy storage and production.
If you have followed this blog, you will have already improved your diet, exercise, and now sleep. The next blog will be about the last two essential elements for a satisfying life - sunshine and love.