National Geographic magazine has long been the gateway to high adventure and exotic locales, but the Aug 2018 issue marks a departure into the foreign land of the human mind during sleep. Flight, sexual stimulation, and death are all fair game as the human brain descends into slumber.
The fact that feature writer Michael Finkel sees sleep as a suitable topic for the venerable National Geographic brand is a testament to the growing psychological and physical importance of proper rest. Finkel ponders early views of sleep from Aristotle in 350 B.C. to the 2017 Nobel Prize in medicine, awarded to three scientists who identified the molecular clock inside our cells that syncs us with the sun.
Finkel points out that a full night’s sleep, “now feels rare and old fashioned as a handwritten letter.” Instead, he points out that, “We all seem to cut corners, fighting insomnia through sleeping pills, guzzling coffee to slap away yawns, ignoring the intricate journey we’re designed to take each evening.”
When broken down into its essential elements, sleep is indeed a metamorphosis of sorts. Good sleep, Finkel writes, “likely also reduces one’s risk of developing dementia,” and then cites a recent study performed with mice. Reserved for the end of the article is indeed a mention of sleep apnea, in addition to a CDC figure that posits more than 80 million Americans as chronically sleep deprived, with insomnia as the main culprit.
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