If we think about it carefully, it is amazing that every day we need to sleep about eight hours, regardless of the physical and intellectual wear of the day. Night comes and we are sleepy, we disconnect and stop living experiences (except the dream ones).
Why do we need to sleep so long? The answer to this question is not easy. Our brain probably needs much of that time to reorder itself. However, in the 1970s a unique theory appeared regarding this need.
The psychologist Ray meddis He pointed out that the reason we slept so many hours, and that most animals also need to sleep so long, is that the dream evolved so that we would remain motionless and go unnoticed during the night, so that we could be less exposed to predators.
However, the creatures that, when night came, threw themselves into the adventure, were perhaps more likely to die and, therefore, their genes were not perpetuated.
Live without sleep
Obsessed with that idea, Meddis wanted to see if we could reduce a few hours of our sleep without paying a tribute in the form of poor health. To do this, he looked for people who needed little sleep and were happy. As he explains Richard Wiseman in his book Night school:
After years of searching, one of Meddis's friends introduced him to a retired nurse of seventy-five years and a lot of energy, who said he slept less than an hour each night. Intrigued, Meddis and his colleagues decided to verify such an amazing statement. In order not to reveal the identity of the woman, in the scientific articles the team only referred to its participant as the mysterious “Mrs. M”
The results of the study revealed that, indeed, Mrs. M needed very little sleep. However, and here's the interesting thing, Mrs. M I had a dream with a similar percentage of REM episodes that want to spend eight hours sleeping.
That is, it seems that if we retain deep sleep or REM sleep, the rest of the dream could be eliminated. But What does our biology need for something like that? A genetic mutation, according to geneticist studies at the University of California:
In 2009, researchers observed something very strange when analyzing the DNA of the blood samples of volunteers who had participated in a series of sleep studies. Two of the samples had abnormal copies of a gene called DEC2, something very unusual and known to affect people's sleep schedule (...) Other scientists raised mice with the same genetic mutation, and saw that they slept less and showed Very few signs of lack of sleep.
There is still much to study the implications of lack of sleep and how they are linked to DEC2, but Can you imagine being able to sleep only one or two hours each night?