Who amongst us hasn’t had, at one time or another, sleep problems? Raise your hand. If you kept your hand lowered, consider yourself very lucky. You’re in the minority.
When it comes to sleep, I consider myself pretty lucky. At middle age, I seem to have found a zone where sleep comes easily. It’s rare that I will spend a night tossing and turning, unlike other times in my life when nodding off just didn’t happen on schedule. (Truth be told I would be a terrible insomniac. I am one of those people who is completely perplexed by those who thrive on 4 or 5 hours of sleep.)
Sleep patterns, experts contend, are layered into our brains early on in life. I grew up in a family that knew how to sleep and appreciated it. My father was an early to bed, early to rise kind of guy. He was a Midwesterner with a sense of purpose in the morning. My mother, on the other hand, stayed up late. No eggs, bacon and coffee around the table in the morning. It was out of bed, down the stairs, out the door and in the car all within 30 minutes. But she rarely missed a solid night of snoozing.
The number of people in the United States plagued with sleep disturbances is staggering. Nearly one of every four Americans says finding a good night of shut-eye is, but a dream. In my latest 1:2:1 podcast, I spoke to Stanford sleep expert Rafael Pelayo, MD, about the ups and downs of nodding off. Pelayo tells me that he got interested in sleep as a science because he was always fascinated by the question: Why do we sleep? You’ll hear his answer in our conversation.
So no matter where you are on the continuum - whether you fall into a dreamy state once your head hits the pillow or you toss and turn throughout the night, I think you’ll find this podcast an interesting conversation about the mystery of the zzzzzzzzzzzzzz’s.
Previously: Stanford expert: Quality, not quantity, of sleep is what counts, Exploring popular sleep myths and Stressed out and not sleeping
Photo by Norbert von der Groeben