I didn’t discover my affinity for sleep until I had to go to Hebrew school. It was then that I first experienced the empty-faced, groggy-eyed, monotone lifestyle of the awakened (in the least religious sense of the word). It was because of my disdain for those wasted early-morning hours that I found my deep love for deep sleep.In these wild, teenage years, when I sometimes get as few as five or six (or seven or eight or nine) hours of sleep, I realize that it is more than a luxury, more than a substitute for coffee. Performing unscientific, unplanned and unfortunate tests on myself, I have come to understand that I am a significantly better human being when I have a sufficient amount of sleep. I am kinder and more patient. I am quicker, wittier, more alert. And, most of all, I make fewer awful puns.
Through Jonah Lehrer’s compilations of studies, which must be taken with an extra-large grain of salt, I have found what is probably fact in my theory, which was formerly based mostly on sleepy philosophising. In a story for the New York Times Lehrer cites a study by Matthew Wilson, of M.I.T., in which rats do a bunch of stuff and a bunch of stuff is done unto them (read the article for specificity) and then Wilson concluded that sleep is necessary for both the preservation and the making sense of memories. Whoa, right?
And, moreover, to explain the characteristic inexplicability of dreams Lehrer reports Wilson says that dreams are used also as an “attempt to search for associations between seemingly unrelated experiences.” That means that your memories of the day before get sorted and night and will wait for you, in a beautiful package in the glorious morning.
Sleep is thus especially important for students, who have to make sense of a half-dozen subjects, which may seem unrelated. However, each is directly related. Each contributes new ways of thinking about seemingly unassociated subjects. Simplifying trinomials, while keeping the same meaning, can help with simplifying history; understanding composition can help with a science reading. And if you go to sleep on time, these associations should present themselves.
And moreover, if everyone sleeps a decent amount of time, maybe they’ll sleep past Hebrew school. What a world that would be.